Crime- busting odd couple cop it sweet
The Inspector Lynley Mysteries 8.35pm, Seven
THOMAS Lynley, the 8th Earl of Asherton, is back in a fifth series. With his perfect posture, careful enunciation and swarthy good looks, the upper- crust Scotland Yard detective inspector is played with aplomb by Nathaniel Parker.
Parker is from a titled family and superbly cast as Tommy Lynley in this series adapted from the popular Elizabeth George mysteries. There would have been no need for elocution coaching and brushing up the star’s table manners: Parker is a pukka- perfect Lynley. Even his darkred Bristol 410 is the classic unflashy ( and terribly British) motor for the country toff.
Lynley’s sidekick, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers ( Sharon Small), is from a lowlier world and as much as corpse- uncovering and crime- solving, it’s the chemistry between this unlikely pair that makes the show so eminently watchable.
The odd couple, with their respective upper and lower- class accents and personal difficulties ( she’s lost a mother to dementia, he has a highmaintenance wife flouncing about in varying degrees of estrangement), always get their crims. They don’t necessarily agree on method and procedure — and the fiery Havers will not be treated as a servant, even if she sounds like one — but both have intuition and empathy in spades.
Lynley, however, likes to bend the rules, obviously believing his blueblooded charm is enough to get his way. He has been suspended from the force in the past for such highhandedness. Havers is always doing her best to remind him he is not above a ticking- off from the higher- ups.
In tonight’s episode, a young trainee human rights lawyer is found bludgeoned to death in Hyde Park; it seems a curious killing until her double life is revealed ( family secrets, internet porn, the whole shameful sackful). It’s a well paced plot, with myriad suspects.
In the best tradition of crime puzzles, most viewers will work it out about five minutes from the end.
There’s a tangible vulnerability about Lynley and Havers. In most Brit plod fodder of this ilk, the stars have few demons. In, say, Taggart or Midsomer Murders , the plots centre squarely on investigations. One exception, the superb but short- lived 55 Degrees North , successfully managed the tight- rope tautness of balancing the characters’ personal and professional lives. Poor old Havers is lonely, pretty but hopelessly unkempt, and clearly is infatuated with the suave Lynley, who turns into a duffer when it comes to his frosty wife Helen ( Catherine Russell).
Until recently, the Helen character was played with hauteur by Lesley Vickerage, so if you are an occasional viewer, this is a confusing twist.
Rather unbelievably, all these Helens refuse to see what a thoroughly decent chap Lynley is. A bleedin’ good guv’nor, as Havers would put it.
Upper- crust investigator: Nathaniel Parker, left, as Inspector Lynley