Blue Murder, which ran on Britain’s ITV from 2003 through 2007, is one of those fabulous British crime series that works on just about every level. Great care has been taken with the scripts, production and casting to make this little known gem a must-see if you are at all interested in the genre.
Caroline Quentin stars as Detective Chief Inspector Janine Lewis, a woman with more on her plate than most. Dealing with Manchester’s most gruesome crimes is not easy. The cases thrown at Lewis are grisly and Blue Murder is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The Brits have no problem illustrating the blood and gore that go with this type of police work.
Lewis is a woman in charge of an all male team of detectives, which is tough when your chauvinistic boss shows little faith in your abilities. But her team respects her and backs her every step of the way.
Her personal life is as complex as her professional one. In the first couple of episodes she is pregnant, left on her own to fend for herself and take care of her home and her three children. Her husband Pete, a victim of an overactive libido and midlife crisis, left her for a younger woman. Lewis handles her problems the best she can but is never portrayed as a superwoman. Occasionally she’s depressed, has her doubts about her life, and questions whether she’s doing a good job at work and at home.
Her colleague, DI Richard Mayne (played by Ian Kelsey of Casualty fame), is a friend and on occasion a romantic interest who always has Lewis’s best interests in mind. But Lewis hasn’t much time for a relationship. Her work and family come first. Still, Mayne is a comfort to her and someone she always can count on.
The stories are craftily rendered. The moment you think you have one figured out, a new clue or culprit is added to the mix and you’re back to square one. Credit must go to Cath Staincliffe for creating such a compelling show and writing a number of its excellent episodes.
Caroline Quentin is known as a comic actress in her native Britain and has won awards for her work on such comedies as Men Behaving Badly and Life of Riley. That said, Quentin proves that she is a remarkable dramatic actress, as well, breathing life into the DCI Lewis character. She truly makes you want this harried, enormously capable woman to succeed. I found myself rooting for her.
The Blue Murder Complete Collection contains nineteen episodes on nine DVDs. The extras include text interviews with Caroline Quentin and Ian Kelsey, a behind-the-scenes documentary, and cast filmographies. The set is available now from Acorn Media.