Shropshire Star

The Big Debate: Who is the best TV detective?

Many clever detectives have graced our TV screens over the years. Matt Panter and Heather Large discuss their favourite sleuths...

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes

It’s got to be Holmes, says Matt

The best TV detective? That is undoubtedly a tricky question. Like the very best sleuths, it takes all manner of deduction and elimination to get to the right answer.

Do you, for example, go for a no-nonsense kind of copper like Jack Regan, from the Sweeney, DI Frank Burnside and DS Ted Roach, from The Bill, or DCI John Luther. Or do you go for a someone such as Hercule Poirot, with his meticulous moustache?, using his brain to solve the most challenging of crimes.

For me though, it doesn’t take Columbo to work out the number one TV detective. And it’s not Peter Falk’s beige raincoat-wearing crime solver, though he’s very good too. No, the case has been cracked and top spot is filled. Pop on your deerstalker and grab a pipe because it is the one and only Mr Sherlock Holmes.

The brainchild of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the resident of 221b Baker Street is one of our greatest literary heroes and has burst out of the pages of those books to become a star of stage and screen.

As a television detective, he was brilliantly brought to life by the outstanding Jeremy Brett on the foggy streets of London but the beauty of Holmes is it’s been proved you can take the character out of his comfort zone.

He doesn’t have to be stuck in Victorian England. He has transcended time as the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch have shown, bringing the detective into the 21st century.

He has his flaws but is also witty and eccentric, a brilliant mind and the solver of crimes in some iconic stories, such as the Hound of the Baskervilles, The Sign of Four and a Study in Scarlet.

And as any fine detective should have – see Morse and Lewis, Poirot and Hastings – Holmes has a trusty partner in the faithful Dr John Watson.

Sherlock laid foundations for all to follow and the violin-playing sleuth remains simply timeless.

Don’t Forget Miss Marple, says Heather

She’s perceptive, highly intelligent and often underestimated.

Many who meet Miss Marple wrongly assume she doesn’t have what it takes to solve complicated crimes.

It’s fair to say this elderly spinster looks very different to your average detective, but that is what gives her an advantage.

Joan Hickson as Miss Marple

Agatha Christie’s character has won the hearts of generations since she was first introduced in 1927.

Partly inspired by Christie’s grandmother and her grandmother’s friend, she appeared in 12 novels and 20 short stories.

On the small screen, she has been played by actresses including Joan Hickman, Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie

Blending into the background, this super sleuth knows everything that is going on in the small village of St Mary Mead, where she has spent all her life.

Over the years, she has learnt a lot about what makes people tick and this means she’s able to spot important details that the police overlook.

In the pursuit of justice, Miss Marple has proven time and time again that her unique understanding of human nature and keen observation skills put her a cut above most other detectives.

Christie’s other famous detective, Hercule Poirot, would certainly also feature among the other top tv sleuths.

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