Miss Scarlet And The Duke review: A drug-addled MP shot in a brothel? It’s a case for Victorian sleuth Eliza, writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS
Miss Scarlet And The Duke
Johnny Vegas: Continue Glamping
Detectives!’ announces an 1896 newspaper ad. ‘If you desire an object to be obtained, a mystery to be solved, or the doings of a person to be ascertained in secret, consult Slater – “the greatest detective of the century” – at No 1 Basinghall St, EC ‘
It was one of many advertisements placed on the front page of the Standard by Henry Slater, who claimed to be ‘successful in almost every case’. One of his specialties was shadowing women who claimed to be shopping when they met male friends instead; another was ‘the new photography’, which guaranteed invaluable evidence for divorce proceedings.
He offered a unique service: ‘lady cyclist detectives’. He employed an army of them, he announced, ‘throughout the kingdom, for confidential services of all descriptions’.
Kate Phillips as Eliza Scarlet and Stuart Martin as William ‘The Duke’ Wellington
Eliza combines a fine, flirtatious manner with masculine clothing, wearing a waistcoat and tie in some scenes
The frustrated romance between Eliza and her oldest friend, Scotland Yard cop William ‘the Duke’ Wellington, lacks real tension.
Slater’s methods should suit Eliza (Kate Phillips), who takes over a rival detective agency, as Miss Scarlet And The Duke (Alibi) returns. She combines a fine, flirtatious way with masculine clothing, with a waistcoat and tie.
But that doesn’t seem to impress her potential clients. Maybe a bike is the answer.
The pace is brisk, the puzzles are well planned and the dialogue is sharp and witty, but this cozy Victorian crime series has two flaws.
The sets are often dimly lit, perhaps to convey city smog and flickering gaslight. It’s meant to be atmospheric, but too often looks dark and dirty.
And the frustrated romance between Eliza and her oldest friend, Scotland Yard cop William ‘the Duke’ Wellington (Stuart Martin), lacks real tension.
They clearly fancy each other rotten, and bicker constantly.
She barges into his office to taunt him, he spends his evenings chatting with her on a chaise by the fire.
In short, they behave as if they are already married. And since they’re both single, what’s to stop them from doing something about it?
But Paul Bazely is an excellent addition to the cast as Clarence, a smart and sharp clerk in the reluctant service of Eliza, and who does everything in his power to express his disdain without actually being fired.
The investigation was also great fun, as Eliza discovered a secret passage in a brothel masquerading as an ‘elite gentleman’s club’ and interrogated a minister of laudanum after he was with one of the girls in the bed was shot. He said it was a ‘hunting accident’.
There’s little fun for Johnny Vegas as he wanders the country looking for a campsite for his converted vans in Carry On Glamping
The actor tries to be cheerful and loud, with new ways to attract a crowd
There’s little fun for Johnny Vegas as he trudges across the country looking for a campsite for his converted vans in Carry On Glamping (Ch4).
The actor tries to be cheerful and loud, with new ways to attract a crowd: ‘I want to be ordained as a Jedi; then I can do weddings. I want to marry people and knight them with my light saber.’
But, while suffering from waves of anxiety and depression, he could not hide how difficult he found the constant round of filming and TV appearances.
Running a holiday business in his spare time was clearly too much, and it became disturbing – even painful – to watch.
As he sat in the back of a car on his way to ITV’s This Morning studios for a chat on the couch, he was slurring his words and close to collapsing.
“I became agoraphobic,” he said afterward, and it wasn’t a one-liner. ‘I don’t like leaving the house. I just want to be left alone with my thoughts.’
A few days later, in the middle of filming, he asked for the cameras to be turned off – he couldn’t go on.
‘Mental and physical exhaustion’ was diagnosed. For Channel 4 to cobble together a series from these scraps of footage, when the star appears so bad, seems both senseless and cruel.