Adapting crime fiction into successful television is a task that demands a great deal of skill. This is all the more so when you are talking about humorous crime fiction. Humour on the page doesn’t always translate effectively on to the screen – and humorous television can also become dated very quickly.
With this in mind, I started watching my new box set of Murder Most English with a degree of trepidation. This is the series based on Colin Watson’s deservedly acclaimed Flaxborough Chronicles. I missed it when it was first shown during my student days, so I wanted to see what I had missed.
The first episode is Hopjoy was Here – I covered the book in a favourable review a few months back. The screenplay was written by Richard Harris – not the actor, but a highly experienced tv scriptwriter, whose many credits include Adam Adamant Lives! The Avengers, Shoestring and Outside Edge. The lead detective role was taken by the late Anton Rodgers, backed up by a young Christopher Timothy.
Unfortunately, I was rather underwhelmed by the show. Rodgers and Timothy do a likeable job, but some of the acting of the supporting cast, including the prime suspect and the forensic pathologist, struck me as sub-optimal, to put it kindly. That trepidation seems justified. I will, though, give the other episodes a try.