“ Genre: Television - No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency / Theatrical Release: 2009 / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Tim Fywell;Charles Sturridge / Actors: Jill Scott ... / DVD released 2010-03-08 at E1 Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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I'm a sucker for a detective program, that's everything from TJ Hooker through to Midsomer Murders and even the CIA documentaries you find on the Discovery channel. A program that recently tickled my fancy was the Botswanan based detective series The No.1 Ladies Detective. It is based on novels by Alexander McCall Smith but I can't say I've read them so wouldn't like to compare.
The First series is made up of a long pilot episode followed by 6 1 hour episodes, from the titles you know you are in for a cheerful, colourful and vibrant program, it makes a pleasant change from the glum urban British environs of say Taggart.
The main recurring characters are very strong and well acted, they are all very likeable as well, which definitely helps when watching it. I've never been to Botswana but I found the accents pretty convincing and only realised at the end that much of the core cast were in fact Americans.
The sprinkling of Tswana, scenery, local customs and superstitions make the program interesting in itself but they also act as a background for crimes and misdemeanours that make up a whole unique array of cases that are unfamiliar to the armchair detective/tele viewer.
Mma Ramotswe leaves the countryside after her father dies and decides to follow her dreams, she sets up a quaint detective agency in a relatively nice area of Gaborone next to a hair salon ran by the extremely obviously homosexual BK (played by South African comedian Desmond Dube), she soon hires a secretary in the form of Miss 97% - Mma Makutsi, a stroppy, efficient woman who is easily upset and not in the usual mould of an African secretary.
Before Mma Ramotswe even steps foot in Gaborone, there's signs of a love interest with gentle mechanic widower JLB Matekoni, if you watch the whole series, you'll notice the roles of the duo's house maids getting stronger as well.
The dialogue between characters is often very humorous, the cases are intriguing and there's usually a few running simultaneously, even if some of them are rather small and generally meaningless, they still have something to add to the episode.
In the 5th episode a rival detective agency sets up shop, the motto is Ex CID, Ex New York, Ex cellent and the detective is none other than "Johnson" from Peep Show, playing a similar role in fact as an ambitious, ruthless character who is quick with words.
This series is definitely worth watching, it brings something new to the detective table and is rather joyful.