Jonathan Creek returns

Good news for lovers of the locked room mystery in the style of John Dickson Carr. It has been announced that after a (too) long sabbatical, Alan Davies will again don his duffel coat to investigate an impossible crime in a new 90-minute episode  of Jonathan Creek, scheduled now to be shown by the BBC during Easter 2013 after a potential Christmas deadline couldn’t be met. The Clue of the Savant’s Thumb,written as always by the show’s creator, David Renwick, will revolve around a secret society and a seemingly inexplicable disappearance in front of witnesses amongst other weird goings on at a girl’s school. The one-off  story will co-star Sheridan Smith as Creek’s sidekick, Joey Ross, who also appeared in the last two seasonal specials.

I was first alerted to the return of the show by the inimitable TomCat and am very glad to have more details finally to hand. I often felt, during its original run (1997 to 2004) that the longer episodes, either feature-length special or two-parters, saw the show at its best, with Renwick coming up with plots that really did stand up against the best of Carr and Clayton Rawson with its mixture of humour, magic and ingenious miracle problems to be solved.

The show did go off the boil after the departure of Caroline Quentin as journalist Maddy Magellan at the end of season 3, though Renwick really pulled out the stops in the special that followed her departure, Satan’s Chimney, which introduced Julia Sawalha and contained what may be the series’ most complex plot ever. My favourite episode probably remains Black Canary, which features a body shot to death in the snow but with no footsteps around the body and which also co-starred Rik Mayall as the wonderfully acerbic Detective Gideon Pryke (presumably named after Carr’s Dr Fell). The last two specials were perhaps not as strong as the show at its peak, but I am very glad to hear of its return even if it is only a one-off for now.

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22 Responses to Jonathan Creek returns

  1. Sergio – Thanks for sharing this. I hope it won’t be too long before this is available where I live (No news yet of whether it will be…)

  2. I’d like to watch this though the original TV series starring Caroline Quentin has never been shown in India unless, of course, BBC Entertainment brings in one or the other in future. BBC-E is currently broadcasting a few British serials like “My Family” and ‘Come Dine With Me” though I can’t say for sure how new they are for viewers in this neck of the woods..

    • It’s a terrific show Prashant, really funny and well plotted too, well above average and certainly worth tracking down if you can (I did in fact write an overview of the show at said Screenonline in fact). Several episodes incidentally are available on Youtube in their entirety by the way …

  3. Thanks for that, Sergio. I’ll certainly check out both your overview and the Youtube episodes. It does sound like a very interesting series.

  4. Patti Abbott says:

    I saw a few of these when we lived abroad. Very entertaining.

  5. TomCat says:

    I’m glad Jonathan Creek is making a return to the small screen, but I hope that this new special will be a significant improvement over The Judas Tree, which was not only one of the worst episodes from the series, but also the one that made the least sense. It was riddled with plot holes. If you want an interesting read, I recommend you try finding the Jonathan Creek topic on the JDCarr forum. I think we reviewed nearly episode from that series.

    By the way, is it just me, or does the plot sounds like a typical, Japanese high-school mystery a la Hajime Kindaichi?

    • I liked The Judas Tree a lot more than you TC while accepting that it had plenty of faults. But at its worst it is just so much better than practically anything else out there!Does it sound like a ‘Japanese high-school mystery a la Hajime Kindaichi/? Do feel free to enlighten me chum – it remains a bit of a mysteru to me (…)

      • TomCat says:

        Well, The Clue of the Savant’s Thumb takes place at a girl’s boarding school, where apparently supernatural events take place and someone disappears in front of several witnesses.

        All the elements are there for a Kindaichi or Conan story. As a matter of fact, Smoke and Mirrors took place on school with a string of ghostly legends attached to it and a murderer who disappears with his victim from a watched classroom.

  6. TracyK says:

    Just what I need. Another TV series on DVD to watch. Have never even heard of this, and might not even like it, but I am going to give it a try. Told my husband to check out this post and he agreed that it sounds good. It is on the netflix queue, although I would rather buy it…

  7. Jeff Flugel says:

    Thanks for the heads-up about the new CREEK special, Sergio! I’m a casual fan of the show (I like Alan Davies most on Q.I.). It’s a little light for my tastes and I never could stand Caroline Quentin, but you’re right, some of the locked room puzzle plots are very clever. I especially liked the really nasty “death trap in the bath” one from one of the later specials.

    • Yeah, the dunking bath is a wonderfully Gothic and nasty bit of machinery – well, fair enough, if you’re not too keen on Quentin I can see how that might temper your entusiasm a bit mate!

  8. I’ll put in another “not awful” word for The Judas Tree – I seem to remember rather enjoying it, and I thought the first Sheridan Smith episode (the name escapes me) was really good. But Series 1 and 2 remain the high point, my personal favourite being the amazingly simple but clever Jack In The Box.

    • Glad to you liked it too. The Grinning Man, with the exceptionally nasty bath, was a bit slowly-paced at two hours (and was originally meant to fill a 90 minute slot) whereas Judas was a bit zippier (though the section in the cellar was also a bit padded) but both were funny and clever and Davies makes for a great of diffident protagonist.

  9. rpg1978 says:

    I have never watched this programme before even though i have been recommended to a few times, is it really worth a watch ? I am quite new (ish) to the locked room concept to be honest. My first foray was with the Michael slade books and website and also with the previous series of the Whitechapel television series, maybe other things as well which i can’t remember.

    • Hi thre, thanks for the comments. If you wantch some of episodes available on YouTube (just seacrh for ‘Jonathan creek’ you’ll get a very fair idea – if you like traditional Locked Room mysteries, this should be right up your street.

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