Based on the series of novels written by Dorothy L Sayers in the 1920s and 30s, Lord Peter Wimsey was dramatised for TV by the BBC between 1972-5. Ian Carmichael, veteran of British film comedy, played the genial, aristocratic sleuth; Glyn Houston was his manservant Bunter. The pair are similar to PG Wodehouse's Jeeves and Bertie Wooster (whom Carmichael played in an earlier TV adaptation) though here the duo are equal in intelligence, breezing about the country together in Wimsey's Bentley and stumbling with morbid regularity upon baffling murder mysteries to test... their wits. Those for whom this series forms hazy memories of childhood might be surprised at its somewhat stagy, lingering interior shots, the spartan paucity of music, the miserly attitude towards locations, especially foreign ones, and the rather genteel, leisurely pace of these programmes, besides which Inspector Morse seems like Quentin Tarantino in comparison. It seems that initially the BBC was reluctant to commission the series and ventured on production with a wary eye on the budget. The Britain depicted by Sayers is, by and large, populated by either the upper classes or heavily accented, rum-do-and-no-mistake lower orders, which some might find consoling. However, the acting is generally excellent and the murder mysteries are sophisticated parlour games, the televisual equivalent of a good, absorbing jigsaw puzzle. There were five feature-length adaptations in all. "Clouds of Witness" sees Wimsey investigate the death of his brother the Duke of Denver's fiancée. --David Stubbs [show more]
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