Lifting a Tip of the Veil: Jonathan Creek vs. "Sherlock Holmes"

"All will be revealed in due course."
- People who plot and scheme

Jonathan Creek (Alan Davies) with Joey Ross (Sheridan Smith)

While the BBC hasn't released any official air dates or synopses for the upcoming Jonathan Creek episodes, Radio Times announces yet another incarnation of the immortal Sherlock Holmes as an enticing plot-thread and rival detective for Creek in the opener of the fifth season.

In a third season episode, Miracle in Crooked Lane (1999), Jonathan Creek's investigation of a possible case of astral projection is hampered by a growing legion of fans, who follow him around like a flock of mimicking lovebirds. This new character, Ridley, is studying criminology and also admirers Creek as a detective, however, Ridley takes his cue from another, even more famous sleuth.

Ridley wears "a black coat, has a thick crop of dark hair and an eye for observing details" and the actor playing the part, Kieran Hodgson, studied Benedict Cumberbatch's recent interpretation of Sherlock for inspiration. Unfortunately, for the fans of Holmes' modern day reinvention, series-creator David Renwick reportedly wrote the episode as a spoof. I suspect from the article Ridley will be somewhere along the lines of the oddball Sherlock from Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller's The Bughouse Affair (2013), which also happens to be a locked room mystery. Radio Times further reports Jonathan Creek is due to air on BBC1 in February.

Well, to pad out this notification, and in anticipation of the upcoming season, I'll post a short list of my favorite episodes as an excuse to babble about impossible crimes. Also known as the part where you can stop reading without the fear of missing anything of importance. 

Jack in the Box (1997)

The standout episode of the first season with an original, satisfying answer for the problem of the retired comedian found dead in the disused nuclear shelter, heavy door locked from the inside, underneath his home. Creek reasons the truth from a toilet basin and a light bulb. 

Danse Macabre (1998)

A well-known and controversial author of sensational horror stories is shot dead on All Hollows' Eve, and her murderer was dressed for the part, clad in a tight skeleton suit, but during the escape from the house the shooter kidnaps the daughter of the victim and they're eventually trapped in the garage. The place is surrounded, but when the door is opened the shooter has disappeared from a locked, windowless room that was constantly guarded. Even if the police should've solved this one immediately, it's still a good trick and overall a very good episode.

Time Waits for Norman (1998)

Read my full review of this episode here

Black Canary (1998) 

A once famous illusionist, known as the "Black Canary," apparently took her own life after chasing away a limping man dressed in rags from the snow covered garden, which was witnessed by her wheelchair-bound husband, but a post-mortem reveals his wife died hours before her committing suicide. The man in rags he saw limping away from his wife must have been lighter than air, because the blanket of snow was bare of any footprints! I still think this the series' masterpiece. 

Satan's Chimney (2001) 

The seemingly impossible murder of an actress during a movie shoot, struck by a bullet fired through a window without breaking the glass, leads Jonathan Creek to an ancient castle with a room where the devil consumed the souls blasphemers. I did not think much of the first plot-thread, but the miraculous disappearance from the dungeon room and the whodunit-aspect were very well put together.

The Tailor's Dummy (2003) 

A truly great episode from the last, regular season until the irregular, seasonal specials took over and begins when a bad review leads a designer to commit suicide, which sets a delightfully piece of a Carrian revenge in motion – in which a man changes his physical appearance in matter of seconds.

Well, I hope to be back before long with a regular review, but a few orders began to arrive around the same time (I was behind on a few series) and now I’m going through something of an existential crisis. I'll sort it out though.


  1. I hadn;t spotted that news item - great news, thanks TC - as for you list of favourites, well, I am hopelessly partisan about the show and it's easier for me to point to one that I think don;t work as opposed to ones that do. I particularly liked MOTHER REDCAP, which seems to get overlooked, and BLACK CANARY may be my favourite overall not least for Rik Mayall's character and the wonderful carrian puzzle!

  2. Oh, we had a lot of fun poking holes in the "logic" of some of the episodes on the old JDCarr forum: why didn't the widow from Seer of the Sands ask for the codeword on the beach? Simple, the "ghost whisperer" wouldn't have known the answer and it would've ruined the impossible effect of the ghostly answers in the buried bottle. Or how it's possibly that both the military and Creek (a stage magician!) missed the obvious answer when they first eximinated the crate.

    I just love to see these impossible situations unfold on screen and when they're good, well, you won't hear (too many) complaints from me. Rik Mayall's Gideon Pyke is great and hope he makes another appearance in the next season.