Murder, They Hope
A bit of a hidden gem, Murder, They Hope started life as a trio of TV films on Gold, each with Christie-inspired names that had been given a northern twist, like Murder on the Blackpool Express and Dial M for Middlesbrough. The stars are two comedy powerhouses, Johnny Vegas (Benidorm) and Sian Gibson (Car Share), who start out running a failing coach business, and then – after solving a series of mysterious (and unlikely) happenings on their coach trips, like a suspicious death of an OAP and an ill-fated cruise – become full-time PIs. The initial films include the great Una Stubbs’ final performance, and the subsequent two series of Murder, They Hope are a veritable who’s-who of comedy greats, like Lee Mack (Not Going Out), Sarah Hadland (Miranda), and Jason Manford (Ordinary Lies). Silly, but great fun.
Where to watch: BritBox (US), NOW (UK)
Death In Paradise
When moody, hapless detectives need to learn a thing or two about themselves, they seem to get shipped out to a posting in the French Caribbean – well, according to Death in Paradise, anyway. First, it was Ben Miller (Bridgerton) who arrived on the fictional island of Saint Marie to investigate the murder of a British police officer, then it was Kris Marshall (who is definitely not Doctor Who), then Ardal O’Hanlon (My Hero) and the most recent recruit is Ralf Little (The Royle Family). Their fellow police colleagues are a lovable bunch including Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf), Don Warrington (New Street Law) and Sara Martins. It’s formulaic in the extreme, shamelessly uses the gorgeous scenery as a major part of its appeal, and the comedy is on the light and fluffy side, but it’s also hugely popular for all of the above reasons, and endlessly comforting to watch. There are 12 seasons to enjoy, with at least two more confirmed.
Where to watch: BBC iPlayer and Sky (UK), BritBox (US and AUS)
The first series of this Death in Paradise spin-off swaps the Caribbean for the Devonshire coast, where Kris Marshall (aka DI Humphrey Goodman) has relocated to the small hometown of his partner Martha (Sally Bretton, Not Going Out). It’s got a fresher feel than Death in Paradise, with the rural police force a lively, haphazard bunch comprising the gutsy DS Williams (Zahra Ahmadi, The Bay), golden-retriever-in-human-form PC Hartford (Derry Girls’ Dylan Llewellyn) and eccentric office support Margo (Felicity Montagu, Alan Partridge). Although it’s generally light-hearted, there are some unexpectedly poignant moments in Humphrey and Martha’s relationship, which only adds to the show’s potential. Series two is already in production.
Where to watch: BBC iPlayer (UK), BritBox (US), Binge (AUS)