Sunday, November 20, 2016

Lord Peter Wimsey: A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery

Edward Petherbridge as Lord Peter.
Premise:  In the 1920s, Lord Peter Wimsey (Edward Petherbridge) and his loyal valet Bunter (Richard Morant) dabble as amateur sleuths. Wimsey's aristocratic mannerisms mask a keen intellect and a soldier's taste for adventure. During World War I, he served as an Army major and Bunter was his sergeant. In Strong Poison, he meets writer Harriet Vane (Harriet Walter) and immediately becomes smitten with her. The only problem: She has been arrested for the murder of a former lover. In subsequent episodes, Peter pursues the free-spirited, intelligent Harriet romantically as they become involved in other murder cases.

Running Time: 52 minutes.

Status:  Lord Peter Wimsey: A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery only lasted for one season of ten episodes. There are three cases, with two of them spanning three episodes and one lasting for four. The series is available on DVD in the U.S. until the title of Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries: Harriet Vane Collection.

Production Notes:  This is the second British television series about Dorothy L. Sayers' beloved sleuth. The first appeared in the 1970s and starred Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter and Glyn Houston as Bunter. Although immensely popular, the series received minor criticism from Sayers' hardcore fans who complained that Carmichael, then in his 50s, was too old to play the thirtyish Lord Peter. At 51, Edward Petherbridge wasn't much younger than Carmichael when he first appeared as Wimsey in the 1987 TV series--however, he looked younger. Petherbridge, who is best known for his stage work, also appeared as Lord Peter in the 1988 play Busman's Honeymoon, which co-starred his real-life wife, Emily Richard, as Harriet Vane.

Our Review:  The Ian Carmichael Wimsey mysteries were our introduction to British TV detectives. Thus, we approached this 1987 version with much trepidation. To our surprise, we enjoyed it immensely. Although a different Lord Peter, Petherbridge is delightful and shares great rapport with Harriet Walter as his love interest. Our only quibbles are minor: the emphasis on Peter and Harriet means less Bunter (who was a great sidekick in the earlier series) and, at times, Peter comes across a bit of a lovesick puppy in his quest to earn Harriet's love. As for the rest of the show, the mysteries are first-rate and the production is handsome.

Grade: A-.


  1. I still prefer Ian Carmichael, but agree Edward Petheridge was good. I loved Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane. I found her to be the true star of the 1987 series.

    1. I'm with you, Gilby. I prefer Ian Carmichael, but liked Petherbridge. Harriet Walter was perfectly cast as Harriet Vane.

  2. I never heard of this series. I really enjoyed the Ian Carmichael Wimsey series and, not having read the books, didn't complain about his age. I'll have to check this series out!