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Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: Season 1 (1996) – DVD Review

Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: Season 1


Series Created by John Bowen and David Cook
Starring Patricia Routledge, Robert Benfield, Dominic Monaghan


  • Interview with actress Routledge
  • Photo gallery
  • Cast filmographies

Released by: Acorn Media.
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Rent it if you’re a serious Anglophile.

Hetty Wainthropp (Routledge) just had her 60th birthday and she’s not happy. She’s irritated that, all of a sudden, people consider her old. She’s still a vital active woman but society wants her to crochet and join senior citizen clubs. She’s having none of that. She goes out looking for a job. Her husband Robert (Benfield) is not exactly happy about this, but he knows better than get in the way of his wife. And since he’s retired, the extra money won’t hurt either. But then she gets involved with a homeless couple cashing someone else’s pension check, a mysterious bag lady with a high-class accent, a biologist with a sudden interest in animal husbandry, and a multinational corporation. Figuring out this mess leaves Hetty to a conclusion: she likes sleuthing and is good at it. So with some ads in the paper, some business cards, and a young assistant Jeremy (Monaghan), Hetty sets out with jobs ranging from missing persons, arson, even murder. Criminals better beware when Hetty Wainthropp Investigates.

[ad#longpost]In several points in the episodes, Hetty mentions “the little grey cells” Hercule Poirot’s famous catch phrase. But it is Miss Marple who Hetty owes her heritage to. Hetty uses her common sense and her understanding of people to solve the crime. At times Hetty can act like a kind grandmother to get the truth, other times she can be as tenacious as a bulldog. Of course, the cases Hetty deals with are a bit different than Jane Marple’s day.

The show touches on the problems of children being raised by the state, the lack of care for schizophrenics, even illegal organ trafficking. Even with the modern touches, the shows do have that Agatha Christie feel to them. And that may be the problem. I used to read Christie when I was younger, but I found them to be rather tame and bloodless. Of course, I took into account when they were written, but they still seem to lack passion or power. That’s the sense I get from this show. The episodes are nice and all, but they don’t really grab me. I admit this is a matter of personal taste and not a fault of the show itself. The actors, especially Routledge and Monaghan, are quite good and the writing is tight and well done. It’s the style I object to and I’m sure there are others who would enjoy it.

Besides the usual photo gallery and filmographies of the cast, there is an extensive interview with the series’ star, Patricia Routledge. This follows the usual format of how she started in the business, her thoughts on her character and co-stars, etc. She does come off as somewhat stiff. She looks very uncomfortable being interviewed which is strange since she must have done interviews before on camera. The extras don’t help make the Hetty Wainthropp Investigates set any more attractive, but if you are in the mood for something in the British amateur sleuth genre, this one is perfectly acceptable.

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