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British Expat Newsletter:
8 November 2006

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Fictional police/detectives
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

We’ve just finished watching the first two series of Lynda La Plante’s “Trial and Retribution”, with David Hayman in the lead role as hard-nosed detective Mike Walker. Gripping stuff. Each episode is about three hours long and it’s impossible to stop watching once you’ve started, so that led to a few late nights – early mornings, more like.

It got me thinking of other fictional cops and detectives. Anyone remember “Dixon of Dock Green” or “Z Cars”? Then there was “Softly, Softly” and a whole host of others. We liked “Inspector Morse”. “A Touch Of Frost” was good too; of course David Jason is always excellent in anything. But Frost lacked the rapport that comes from having a regular side-kick. Maybe the fact that he had a succession of them was a deliberate feature of the series, but to me it made the programme much more of a one-man show. Morse wouldn’t have been quite the same without the put-upon Lewis beside him – and many of the storylines made nearly as much of Lewis’s predicament (family life, career progression etc) as of Morse’s. They’ve even done a spin-off starring Kevin Whately as (now) Detective Inspector Lewis (and three more are in the pipeline).

My all-time favourite is “Taggart” – not just because it’s Scottish, or even because the stories are both gripping and credible, but because there’s a really good interplay between the team of detectives, which has endured several changes in the cast. Sadly Mark McManus, who played the title role, died in 1994 after eleven years in the role but somehow it managed to remain a big success despite this. Interestingly, the character of the new Chief Inspector that replaced Taggart was almost a complete opposite – Mike Jardine, who had joined the series in 1987, was very squeaky-clean and urbane where Taggart had been gritty. But following James MacPherson’s departure in 2002 they reverted to type and got Alex Norton in to play DCI Matt Burke.

The genre has had enduring popularity in Britain, even before film and television took off – Agatha Christie, for instance, was a hugely successful author in the 1920s. I sometimes wonder if it’s quite the same elsewhere. Somehow the various US police and detective dramas have never really grabbed me in the same way – too much glamour, not enough substance. How can you compare “Starsky and Hutch” with “Inspector Morse”, or “The Bill” with “Hill Street Blues” or (far less) “NYPD Blue”, with its annoying camera swooshes between scenes? And Indian detective thrillers are even more melodramatic.

Of course, probably the greatest fictional detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes, has had his share of portrayals on TV and film – apparently more actors have played him than any other character. Basil Rathbone was possibly the most famous for a time, with a series of black-and-white films made in the 1930s and 1940s. But many fans of the books think he was something of a travesty – as were some of the storylines, which were thinly-veiled wartime propaganda rather than faithful reproductions of the books. Jeremy Brett played the role very successfully on Granada TV for several years. But possibly the most successful Holmes wasn’t even an English speaker. Vasily Livanov played him in seven films between 1979 and 1986, receiving an honorary OBE for his efforts. For many Russians, Livanov *was* Holmes. Coincidentally, he looks rather like Basil Rathbone…

Do you have anything to say about this topic? Or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?

Virtual Snacks

Just a few suggestions if you have a little time to spare:

The Taggart Fan Club have a great collection of trivia, quizzes and information about the series:
taggart-fanclub.co.uk

The Sherlock Holmes Museum has a pretty good online presence. Their virtual tour has musical accompaniment (the theme music to the Granada TV series), but it’s easy to turn it off.
Sherlock Holmes Museum

The University of Oxford have put together a “Morse’s Oxford” collection of 360-degree panorama shots, featuring some of the buildings that appear in the series:
Morse’s Oxford

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • how do vulture breathe?
  • smoke smarties
  • monologue darn thing in there
  • hangwoman stories
  • liver and lights recipes
  • butch monkeys
  • how to please a man in bed with pictures
  • blue whale penis circumference
  • food from exhibition of sail
  • cheap flay romania

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay
Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

– Sherlock Holmes in “The Sign Of The Four”, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

Joke

Three blondes were all applying for the last available position on the Texas Highway Patrol. The detective conducting the interview opened a file drawer and pulled out a picture. “To be a police officer, you have to be observant. You must be able to notice things such as distinguishing features and oddities such as scars and so forth.”

So saying, he showed the photo to the first blonde for two seconds. “Now,” he said, “did you notice any distinguishing features about this man?”

The blonde immediately said, “Yes, I did. He has only one eye!”

The detective shook his head and said, “Of course he has only one eye in this picture! It’s a profile of his face! You’re dismissed!”

The first blonde hung her head and walked out of the office. The detective then showed the photo to the second blonde for two seconds. “What about you? Notice anything unusual or outstanding about this man?”

“Yes! He only has one ear!”

The detective put his head in his hands and exclaimed, “Didn’t you hear what I just told the other lady? This is a profile of the man’s face! Of course you can only see one ear! You’re excused too!”

The second blonde sheepishly walked out of the office.

The detective turned his attention to the third and last blonde and said, “This is probably a waste of time, but……” He showed her the photo for two seconds. “All right, did you notice anything distinguishing or unusual about this man?”

The blonde said, “I sure did. This man wears contact lenses.”

The detective frowned, took another look at the picture and began looking at some of the papers in the folder. He looked up at the blonde with a puzzled  expression and said, “You’re absolutely right! His bio says he wears contacts! How in the world could you tell that by looking at his picture?”

The blonde rolled her eyes and said, “Well, helloooo!  With only one eye and one ear, he certainly can’t wear glasses!”

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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