Top 10 T.V. Detectives

Most people like a good detective show every now and again, but who are the best?

Some people like the gung-ho detectives of the late seventies – and I include myself in that –  such as Body and Doyle (the Professionals).  But we didn’t very often see them poring over the clues, etc.  I’m looking (mostly!) at those detectives that, as much as the restrictions of television allowed, actually did some detecting.

1. Columbo


Top of the bunch has to be the most unkempt person on the telly.

It seemed that Lieutenant Columbo – we never did find out his first name – had an uncanny knack of knowing the killer as soon as he met them.  It was then just a case of seeing what shenanigans he’d get up to in order to trap the poor person.

He always respected the villain he was after and in almost every case they seemed to have a similar respect for him when they knew the game was up.

2. Inspector Morse

Morse was a old school detective working in and around Oxford.  He loved his classical music, wasn’t very successful with the ladies but he was a hell of a copper.  We discovered towards the end of the series that his first name was Endeavour!  Just as well we didn’t know that at the start!  He was very methodical in his investigations.

3. Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock has been portrayed on t.v. by many actors.  For years the best of them was Jeremy Brett but he was surpassed (at least in my humble opinion) by the most recent actor to take on the part – Benedict Cumberbach.  The character was brought out of the old Victorian streets and placed slap-bang in the middle of today’s world.  The writers did a fantastic job of integrating Holmes into the technology of today whilst still keeping true to his sense of logic and deduction.

4 .Dirk Gently

The brilliant holistic detective – the brainchild of Douglas Adams – was finally brought to our screens.  He has a very unique way of working which is really entertaining to watch.

5. Tom Barnaby

This much-maligned detective from Midsomer has had various side-kicks come and go. Given the amount of murders being committed in the area, I’m surprised Causton hasn’t become a ghost-town!  That aside it is good to see a copper doing some legwork – he’s hardly ever sat behind a desk!  This is one of the few detective shows where even the viewer doesn’t get to see “who done it” until the end, so you can play along and try to catch the clues as they’re discarded!

6. George Gently

No relation to Dirk!  Despite his name Inspector George Gently is anything but gentle! He’s a hard northern copper and the show is based in the sixties, so there’s none of that political correctness that blights the cause of many of today’s coppers.  You’ll often see him and his partner smoking in the office (gasp!) or giving a suspect some healthy ‘encouragement’ to confess.

7. Hercule Poirot

Agatha Christie’s great Belgian detective, Mr Poirot is the best of the ‘private detectives’.  His ‘little grey cells’ were always hard at work, sifting through the wealth of clues and other information to get the killer.

8. Bergerac

Like Barnaby, the Jersey detective Jim Bergerac of the ‘Bureau des Etrangers’, was played by John Nettles.  As we join the series Jim is recovering from a broken leg and is beginning his life again as a reformed alcoholic.  Many stories unfold on the idyllic isle of Jersey, thankfully not all involving murder!  The series dealt with some tough issues, like Nazi war crimes.  By the end of the series Jim had become a private detective, having had one too many run-ins with his bosses.

9. Starsky & Hutch

I include this simply because it was a childhood favourite. Not much detective work went on, but there was lots of action and I enjoyed the banter between them – it’s probably the best ‘buddy’ series going. You always knew that whatever was thrown at them, they’d come out of it with their friendship just that bit stronger!  Then of course there was the unsung hero of the show – the Ford Torino.  Most of us guys must have coveted that car!

10. Thomas Magnum

Like Starsky & Hutch, I’ve included this for the good-feeling ‘buddiness’ that came out of the programme, rather than any great detecting skills. And the Ferrari 308 GTS, of course!  Our moustachioed hero, one Thomas Sullivan Magnum, was ex-special forces (Navy SEALs) and was kept on as a security advisor by Robin Masters, on whose estate Magnum resides.   Magnum was actually killed off at the end of season 7 but, due to an outcry from fans, an eighth series was made where he miraculously comes back to life … that’s where it lost all credibility for me!