One series that we particularly enjoy is the Lord Peter Wimsey series. Actually, there are two different versions of the Lord Peter Wimsey series (by the great author Dorothy L. Sayers)…. one series was made in the 1970s and the other was made in the 1980s. (This article will be about the 1970s version. My next article will be about the 1980s miniseries.)
When I started watching the BBC 1970s version, I wasn’t quite sure if I would stay with the series, or not. It was “different” than any other series I had watched… the shows almost seemed a bit “campy.” But, I finally decided to stay with the series, and boy (!) am I ever glad that I did! If anything, now that my husband has seen the series, we are really sorry that there are only five different episodes. (Not to worry, each of the episodes is given three hours or more… so they aren’t crammed into the normal 52 minute format.) I first saw the series on PBS, when it aired on Masterpiece Theatre. You may be asking why it was on Masterpiece Theatre and not Mystery!… but for those of you old enough to remember “way back then”, you will know that there was no such show as Mystery!… And, rumor has it that this wonderful mystery series is what prompted Masterpiece Theatre to fork out into the Mystery! show.
Dorothy L. Sayers is known to most mystery readers as one of the great mystery writers of all times. After Oxford, she taught school and also worked as a copywriter for an advertising firm. Her first Lord Peter Wimsey novel (Whose Body?) was published in the early 1920s.
Ian Carmichael stars as Lord Peter Wimsey in this BBC production. Clouds of Witness, Murder Must Advertise, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, The Nine Tailors, and Five Red Herrings are the titles of the different miniseries, which of course, are based on the novels of the same names.
The Lord Peter Wimsey collection is one of the few miniseries series that features an aristocratic sleuth who is actually smarter than his butler! Bunter, while smart, is still no match for his employer. Inspector Parker, who befriends Lord Peter Wimsey and falls for Lord Wimsey’s sister, Lady Mary (“Polly”) is refreshingly smart, also. (Sometimes, when you have a main sleuthing character it is almost perfunctory to have a bungling police force…. which is not the case in these shows.)
(Here is a list of the novels by Dorothy L. Sayers.)
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My favourite is Nine Tailors, whose theme is the science of bell-ringing. How this intertwines with a stolen necklace of fabulous emeralds, the Spanish Influenza epidemic, a mind-boggling cypher, and Peter’s accidental presence in Fenchurch St. Paul at Christmas pleases me no end.
My father enjoyed watching this series back in the 1970’s. He has the dvds of the adaptations of the five books you mention. However, he swears that he also viewed the three murder mysteries which feature Miss Vane, and that now these episodes have vanished off the face of the earth! He describes the visual details of these, starring Ian Carmichael, most convincingly.
My question is, were these really filmed?
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Bob, that series has not “vanished off the face of the earth!” Those are the Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries: Harriet Vane Collection (Strong Poison / Have His Carcase / Gaudy Night). These TV movies star Edward Petherbridge and the wonderful Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane. (My husband and I loved these TV movies!)