Crime- bust­ing odd cou­ple cop it sweet

The In­spec­tor Lyn­ley Mys­ter­ies 8.35pm, Seven

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Susan Kuro­sawa

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

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