Yes, I know that we are, primarily, a cinema based site but I thought I would branch out for a wee bit. The TV programme that has led me to this is called Mrs Sidhu Investigates and it was sent by my friends at Aim Publicity; the show launched last month and gets a DVD and digital release on 30th October. I decided to include a review here for a couple of reasons. The first is that the episodes are running at around an hour and a half so we aren’t far off feature length anyway. The second reason is the star, the titular Mrs Sidhu herself; Meera Syal, who is yet another of our national treasures.
She is a comedian, journalist, actor, and writer in the same vein as Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Julia Davis, and Morwenna Banks. She may not be as well known across the Atlantic but she has been a regular on UK stages, screens, and radio sets since the eighties. Non-UK readers probably know her best as Jack Malik’s mum, Sheila in Yesterday. However, she has around 150 credits to her name when you include stage and writing credits. I still fondly remember Bhaji On The Beach which she wrote with Gurinder Chadha before she went off to make Bend It Like Beckham. Bhaji On The Beach is a particular favourite of mine thinks to the blink and you’ll miss it cameo of my old room in college!
I Can Help You
Throw in the fact that I think that Meera Syal is all round wonderful and you can see why I was keen to check out this series. I’ll admit that I adore Meera. She is everything that I think makes a perfect woman; clever, funny, and quick witted. Being gorgeous as well is a bonus! Anyway, enough slavering fanboy nonsense from me. In Mrs Sidhu Investigates, Meera is her usual top notch self. She is not over the top funny but that is a good thing because this isn’t a comedy role. She plays a woman who is recently widowed and also lost her father at an early age. To make ends meet she is turning to her skill set which is cooking.
However, she is also a very observant woman. And by that I mean in an kind of quasi-Sherlock Holmes way. There is an early scene which shows a young couple who have come to her for their wedding catering. She is giving them samples but then drops the bombshell that the wedding won’t be happening because the bride is having second thoughts and reals off all the signs that she has spotted in the time it took to try a coriander cod ball. As is often the way with central characters she is a trouble magnet and problems follow her around from job to job. Yes, I know that is because we wouldn’t have a series if they didn’t!
I Notice Things
So Mrs Sidhu uses her natural powers of observation to go around solving crimes. Obviously the other big ingredient that is needed in this sort of comedy crime drama is friction. There needs to be someone who has to resent Mrs Sidhu sorting things out and solving the crimes without the benefit of a couple of years at Hendon Police College. In this case that person is DCI Burton (Craig Parkinson) a grizzled old campaigner who is umming and ahing with the thought of retirement. He is ably assisted by Sgt Mint (Naana Agyei-Ampadu) who is more than just an assistant, she is also keeping a look out for her boss’s welfare.
All in all MSI is really enjoyable series. It is a nice idea which has been very well executed. It had the good fortune to have a previous incarnation as a BBC Radio 4 drama series.All the regular cast (I forgot to mention Gurjeet Singh as Mrs Sidhu’s son Tez, and Gordon Kennedy as Burton’s boss Superintendent De Vries) fit together nicely and create a satisfying dynamic. The supporting cast drop into their roles nicely and we end up with an entertaining series of crime dramas with a sense of humour. At present there are only four episodes to enjoy but I sincerely hope to see much more from the Miss Marple of Slough!
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Former teacher, lecturer, homelessness administrator, pharmacy dispenser now happily retired, happily married, and a very happy granddad. I live next to the Mersey but on the side Daniel Craig and Taron Egerton come from rather than the side the Beatles came from!