The Inspector Lynley Mysteries


Rating 3

Based on the ‘Inspector Lynley’ novels written by Elizabeth George

A Great Deliverance (screenplay by Lizzie Mickery); Well Schooled in Murder (screenplay by Simon Block); Payment in Blood (screenplay by Lizzie Mickery); For the Sake of Elena (screenplay by Valerie Windsor); Missing Joseph (screenplay by Lizzie Mickery); Playing for the Ashes (screenplay by Kate Wood); In the Presence of the Enemy (screenplay by Francesca Brill); A Suitable Vengeance (screenplay by Valerie Windsor); Deception on his Mind (screenplay by Valerie Windsor); In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (screenplay by Ann-Marie di Mambro); A Traitor to Memory (written by Kevin Clarke); A Cry for Justice (written by Ann-Marie di Mambro); If Wishes were Horses (written by Simon Booker); In Divine Proportion (written by Julian Simpson); In the Guise of Death (written by Simon Block); The Seed of Cunning (written by Mark Greig); Word of God (written by Peter Jukes); Natural Causes (written by Peter Jukes); One Guilty Deed (written by Mark Greig); Chinese Walls (written by Ed Whitmore); In the Blink of an Eye (written by Ed Whitmore); Limbo (written by Ed Whitmore); Know Thine Enemy (written by Ed Whitmore)

Directors: Richard Laxton (3 episodes), Robert Young, Kim Flitcroft, Richard Spence, Brian Stirner (3 episodes), Edward Bennett, Tim Leandro, Sebastian Graham Jones, Alrick Riley (2 episodes), Nigel Douglas, Jeremy Silberston, Julian Simpson, Simon Massey, Jonathan Fox Bassett, Robert Bierman (2 episodes), Brian Kelly and graham Theakston

Starring Nathaniel Parker (DI Thomas Lynley), Sharon Small (DS Barbara Havers), Lesley Vickerage (Helen Clyde/Lynley – seasons one to three), Catherine Russell (Helen Lynley – season five), Paul Hickey (Lafferty), Shaun Parkes (DC Winston Nkata), Gabrielle Drake (Lady Asherton) and June Watson (Mrs Havers)

Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, the Eighth Earl of Asherton, is a peer of the realm and a Scotland Yard detective. He is assigned Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, who comes from a working class background and has a reputation as a confrontational troublemaker who has a problem with authority, as his partner. Both are unpopular with their colleagues and bosses in the force. Although seemingly mismatched, they form a bond while investigating a series of murders against a backdrop of their complicated, quite disparate and sometimes tragic private lives.


‘The Inspector Lynley Mysteries’ was a series of twenty-three crime drama stories made by the BBC and broadcast in six seasons between 2001 and 2008. The three-hour pilot episode was shown in two parts and thereafter each story was told in a single 90-minute episode. The first five seasons consisted of four episodes, but only two episodes were made for the sixth and final season and the broadcast of these was delayed by nearly a year. They were based on characters created by the American author Elizabeth George. The first ten Inspector Lynley episodes (including the pilot) were adapted from novels written by George, but not the next nine episodes. George has to date written 15 novels featuring her character Thomas Lynley. My partner, who is an aficionado of crime thriller novels, is not fond of the Elizabeth George books, but tells me that the television series is not a particularly faithful adaptation of her work. Having never read any of the novels, my judgement is not affected by this.

At some point in the past I chanced to see part of an episode of the television series and instantly dismissed it as being something I would not be interested in watching. I don’t remember why. After that I paid no attention to it. However, in a moment of boredom, I recently watched the second episode of season four on the digital television channel Alibi (previously known as UK Arena and UK Drama) and this time around I became hooked. In a remarkably short space of time I voraciously watched all but a couple of the other twenty-two episodes that make up the complete series, at a rate of about three or four episodes a week.

The series is very typical of its type and the premise is, of course, patently daft. It has often been compared unfavourably to the widely loved multi-award winning ‘Inspector Morse’, which I actually have never liked very much. My own favourite British crime-drama series is ‘Waking the Dead’ (the two series share a writer, Ed Whitmore) and this is not a patch on that, but it obviously caught me at a moment when I was inclined to sit back and enjoy it. Nathaniel Parker and Sharon Small work very well together and Parker manages to be believable playing a character who should not be any such thing, but it is Small who really steals the show. She is superb in the role of Barbara Havers, even if, I am told, she bears little resemblance to the character in the novels.

The departure of Lesley Vickerage, who played Lynley’s wife, after the third season was a pity. The character was absent in season four and the role was played by Catherine Russell in season five. Gabrielle Drake, sister of the mercurial and tragic singer-songwriter Nick Drake, appears in two episodes in the role of Lynley’s mother.

Review posted 1 November 2009


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