Detective Constable "Dangerous" Davies is the central character in a series of comic novels by Leslie Thomas and a TV series, The Last Detective made for ITV. The first novel in the series was also made into a film for television in 1981.
Davies is a low-ranked CID officer in the London borough of Willesden. He is nicknamed "Dangerous" ironically because he is said to be harmless. His real first name is never revealed. In the novels and TV series he is called "The Last Detective" from his superior's assessment of him as "the last detective, since he was never dispatched on any assignment unless it was very risky or there was no one else to send". Despite this, Davies is by no means a poor detective, and although he can take longer than his colleagues, and is dogged by bad luck, he does usually "get his man" in the end.
The first story had him drifting into the years-old unsolved case of the disappearance of Celia Norris, a local girl with a dark side. With his friend, the perpetually unemployed and well-read Mod Lewis (he spends all his time at the library to save on heating) he tracks down the culprit, collecting plenty of cuts, bumps and bruises along the way at the hands of the local thugs. At one point he is "binned" — an empty dustbin is placed over his head, pinning his arms, and the outside is then hit with pickaxe handles.
Bernard Cribbins played Davies in the first television version of this story, made in 1981. At the end he was swathed in so many bandages as to be unrecognizable, and confined temporarily to a wheelchair. In his later appearances he has been portrayed by Peter Davison from 2003 to 2007.
Much of the appeal of the books and TV series lies in the comical interactions between Davies and the other characters. His kindly manner enables him to gain the confidence of witnesses and suspects, many of whom reveal their eccentricities to him. Other humour comes from his friendship with Mod, and from his relationship with his estranged wife Doris (Julie in the TV series).
The Bernard Cribbins production is available on DVD, distributed by Acorn Media UK.
List of novels
- Dangerous Davies: The Last Detective (1976)
- Dangerous in Love (1987)
- Dangerous by Moonlight (1993)
- Dangerous Davies and the Lonely Heart (1998)
Selected credits from the film version
- Bernard Cribbins as DC "Dangerous" Davies
- Bill Maynard as Mod Lewis
- Joss Ackland as Chief Inspector Yardbird
- Bernard Lee as Sergeant Ben (Lee's final role before his death)
- Directed by Val Guest
- Written by Val Guest and Leslie Thomas
Recurring cast in the TV series
- Peter Davison as DC "Dangerous" Davies
- Sean Hughes as Mod
- Emma Amos as Julie Davies
- Rob Spendlove as DI Aspinall
- Charles De'Ath as DS Pimlott
- Billy Geraghty as DC Barrett