Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators

Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators S3 [2020] (BBC One)

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Just as January is synonymous with the latest run of Father Brown episodes on daytime BBC, so February is becoming associated with the return of Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators, which is now in its third season. Somewhat more light-hearted and comedic than its clerical stable mate (which itself hardly takes things too seriously, even when it comes to murder) it certainly seems that the show co-created by Father Brown writing alumni Jude Tindall and Paul Matthew Thompson has managed to develop its own faithful following meaning that it has been renewed for not just this latest run, but also at least one more to follow in 2021.

That’s largely thanks to a likeable cast, headed by Mark Benton as Frank Hathaway. Looking noticeably more kempt this time than in past seasons (where he often looked as though he’d spent the previous night sleeping under a railway bridge), he’s a former senior police officer in Stratford-upon-Avan who now runs a private detective agency with his sleuthing partner Luella Shakespeare, a former hairdresser played by Jo Joyner. Also returning for the latest run is Patrick Walshe McBride (recently glimpsed in the BBC’s new Dracula adaptation) as their office manager and perennially out-of-work actor Sebastian Brudenell, who gets to put his RADA training to good use anytime a touch of undercover surveillance is required.

Sadly it seems that Frank’s former police colleague Detective Inspector Christina Marlowe (Amber Aga) has moved on after being seconded on an indefinite basis to a special task force. That promotes the obstructive Detective Sergeant Keeler (Tomos Eames) to the full-time position of the show’s main police presence, after recurring as Marlowe’s sulky sidekick in seasons 1 and 2. In her place, Yasmin Kaur Barn joins the cast as junior PC Viola Deacon who is rather more amenable and helpful towards Frank and the team (and Sebastian in particular) than Keeler. There’s also a one-off return appearance from Roberta Taylor as Sebastian’s landlady Gloria Fonteyn, who runs a useful theatrical costumiers. Read the rest of this entry »

Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators S2 [2019] (BBC One)

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I’ll be honest, there’s really very little to be said about BBC Daytime’s light hearted detective show Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators that wasn’t previously covered in my review of the first season a year ago. While the first run is only now getting an airing in the US, this series co-created by Father Brown alumni Jude Tindall and Paul Matthew Thompson has just returned for a second tranche of ten episodes on the BBC and picks up right where it left off, with the same cast and much the same mix of broad comedy, witty quips and the odd interesting whodunnit mixed in.

Mark Benton returns (now with added beard) as Frank Hathaway, a police officer who quit the force to become a private detective, with former hairdresser Jo Joyner back as his sleuthing partner Luella Shakespeare. They’re aided in their cases by Sebastian Brudenell (Patrick Walshe McBride), a young out-of-work actor who comes in handy when a bit of undercover surveillance work is needed; and by Sebastian’s landlady Gloria Fonteyn (Roberta Taylor) who runs a theatrical costumier store. Expressing continued exasperation at Shakespeare and Hathaway’s interference in her cases is Frank’s former police colleague, Detective Inspector Christina Marlowe (Amber Aga).

While no Father Brown, the show is acceptably entertaining nonetheless. Set in Stratford-upon-Avon, it takes great delight in packing in as many Shakespeare related puns as possible, and whether it’s a genuine crime drama or a flat-out sitcom rather depends on the individual episode and the viewer’s forbearance. Certainly several of the episodes seem to drift more into outright comedy than before, so don’t go in expecting anything too meaty; simply put your brain in neutral and enjoy the ride and all will be well. Read the rest of this entry »

Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators S1 [2018] (BBC One)

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If you didn’t already know that BBC Daytime’s new afternoon series Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators was from the same production team behind Father Brown, WPC 56 and The Coroner, then it really shouldn’t take you very long to make the connection. The similarity in writing and production house style are a giveaway on their own, and if you don’t get it from that then the delightful-as-ever musical cues by Debbie Wiseman stamp an indelible hallmark on the entire affair.

The new series features comedy actor Mark Benton as former detective turned private eye Frank Hathaway, whose ramshackle business is about to go under. The situation forces him to take on former hairdresser Luella Shakespeare (ex-EastEnders star Jo Joyner) as his partner when she offers to invest her life savings in the firm. Despite her previous occupation, she turns out to have some impressive skills of her own – in many ways more so than Hathaway, who is so slovenly that he makes Columbo look like a fashion model. Read the rest of this entry »