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Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: Complete Collection

Release Year:         1996-98
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour, NTSC
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         27 episodes on 12 discs
Running Time:         22.5 hours plus Bonus
DVD Release Date:         February 11, 2014
Screenwriter:        John Bowen, David Cook
Director:         Robert Tronson, David Giles, John Glenister
Actors:         Patricia Routledge, Dominic Monaghan, Derek Benfield
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         10/10

Acorn Media Write-up:    
Acclaimed actress Patricia Routledge (Keeping Up Appearances) brings her genius for wry comedy and warm-hearted drama to the role of Hetty Wainthropp, a housewife turned private investigator. Like an earthier Miss Marple, Hetty applies her seasoned intuition and fierce moral compass to the job of righting wrongs in England’s towns and villages. With the support of her teenaged sidekick, Geoffrey (Dominic Monaghan, Lost, The Lord of the Rings trilogy), and devoted husband, Robert (Derek Benfield, Rumpole of the Bailey), she grows from a most unlikely sleuth into an experienced and respected detective.

This collection captures Hetty’s sleuthing career in one set–including episodes not seen on the PBS Mystery! broadcast. Her old-fashioned common sense and unfailing compassion make Hetty a detective to be reckoned with–and to cherish.

BONUS Interview with Patricia Routledge (26 min), production notes and photo gallery

Jon Ted Wynne Review:    
It is wonderful that Acorn has chosen to re-release (with closed captioning) the terrific Patricia Routledge series from the mid-nineties: HETTY WAINTHROPP INVESTIGATES.

Routledge is best-known for her work in Keeping Up Appearances, a program which seems to be endlessly repeated, usually on PBS. Her Hyacinth Bucket (“It’s pronounced bouquet!”) is a masterpiece of comedic acting, a woman who perceives herself to be much higher on the social ladder than she really is.

There is a thread that connects Keeping Up Appearances with HETTY WAINTHROPP INVESTIGATES. Hetty is a sixty year old pre-pensioner who simply refuses to give in to old age and the perceptions that society in general has of those who are “put out to pasture”.

Through an extraordinary series of low-key events, Hetty has an epiphany: she is “meant” to be a detective. At an age when most people are winding down in life, she has discovered her “gift” and is just beginning to live. She is re-born.

Adding immensely to the show’s success is Hetty’s friendship/ mentoring of Geoffrey, a late teen who is badly in need of some stable direction in his life. It is a fresh take on the detective/ sidekick relationship that is made believable by Routledge refusing to play Hetty as a know-it-all, but rather as a nurturing caregiver who genuinely cares for her young charge. She is also passionately vocal about the role of older people in society and is not afraid to tear a strip off anyone who thinks otherwise.

Hetty’s husband, Robert, completes the unlikely triangle, quietly expressing his doubt at first but gradually becoming significantly supportive as he struggles to understand the needs of his spouse.

There’s a fair bit of humour mixed in with the drama and it is testimony to the fine scripts and fully-developed characters that the show balances the two elements with such deft.

All of the episodes are fine and some are quite brilliant. As the team’s reputation grows, their cases become more involving, with season three being probably the best of the lot. It is here that some very notable guest stars appear, such as Ronald Pickup, Richard Pasco and Charles Kay.

A great example of the show’s humour is found in the episode when young Geoffrey is being threatened by a suspect and almost thrown off a balcony. “Please don’t. I may not bounce!” he exclaims.

There’s plenty of bounce in HETTY WAINTHROPP. It has a wonderful light touch to it while still offering involving plots and mysteries.