Hetty Wainthropp Investigates

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Hetty Wainthropp Investigates
Hetty Wainthropp titles.jpg
Series titles. The background is formed from multiple "photographs".
Genre Crime/Comedy drama
Created by David Cook (book)
Starring Patricia Routledge
Derek Benfield
Dominic Monaghan
John Graham Davies
Suzanne Maddock
Frank Mills
Composer(s) Nigel Hess
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 4
No. of episodes Pilot + 27 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Michael Wearing
Producer(s) Carol Parks
Running time 60 minutes (per episode)
Original channel ITV (pilot)/BBC1
Original release 3 January 1996 – 4 September 1998

Hetty Wainthropp Investigates is a gentle British crime/comedy drama television programme that aired from 1996 to 1998 on BBC One. Patricia Routledge starred as the titular character (Henrietta "Hetty" Wainthropp[1]), Derek Benfield as her patient husband Robert, Dominic Monaghan as their lodger (and her assistant) Geoffrey Shawcross and John Graham Davies as DCI Adams. Later episodes include Suzanne Maddock as Janet Frazer, a feisty young auto mechanic who sells a car to Geoffrey; their relationship develops by the end of the series, and Frank Mills as Robert's brother Frank, who visits in series 3 while Robert is in Australia and appears in the final episode. In the United States, episodes have been featured on PBS's anthology programme Mystery!.


Hetty Wainthropp is a retired working-class woman from Darwen in North West England, who has a knack for jumping to conclusions and solving crimes of varying bafflement which often are too minor to concern the police. Although on occasion her husband offers assistance, he more often than not tends to the home while Hetty gads about the countryside with young Geoffrey in search of resolution and justice. In many episodes Hetty seeks the help and advice of DCI Adams of the local constabulary.


  • "Missing Persons" (30 May 1990)

Hetty Wainthropp, a lady of a certain age, visits childhood friend Edith and discovers that her husband, Frank, has a son by a previous marriage. Hetty decides to turn amateur detective to trace him. This gives her a taste for detection, and she decides to set up a private detective agency.

Series 1[edit]

  1. "The Bearded Lady" (3 January 1996)
  2. "Eye Witness" (10 January 1996)
  3. "Fingers" (17 January 1996)
  4. "Widdershins" (24 January 1996)
  5. "A High Profile" (31 January 1996)
  6. "Safe as Houses" (7 February 1996)

Series 2[edit]

  1. "Poison Pen" (29 November 1996)
  2. "Lost Chords" (6 December 1996)
  3. "Runaways" (13 December 1996)
  4. "The Astral Plane" (20 December 1996)
  5. "A Rose by Any Other Name" (3 January 1997)
  6. "Woman of the Year" (10 January 1997)

Series 3[edit]

  1. "All Stitched Up" (28 November 1997)
  2. "Daughter of the Regiment" (5 December 1997)
  3. "Serving the Community" (12 December 1997)
  4. "Fisticuffs" (19 December 1997)
  5. "Childsplay" (2 January 1998)
  6. "Pursuit by Proxy" (9 January 1998)
  7. "A Minor Operation" (16 January 1998)
  8. "Helping Hansi" (23 January 1998)
  9. "How Time Flies" (30 January 1998)

Series 4[edit]

  1. "Something to Treasure" (24 July 1998)
  2. "Family Values" (31 July 1998)
  3. "Digging for Dirt" (7 August 1998)
  4. "Mind over Muscle" (14 August 1998)
  5. "Blood Relations" (21 August 1998)
  6. "For Love nor Money" (4 September 1998)
Parody Special


Hetty Wainthropp Investigates is based on characters from the novel Missing Persons (1986) by David Cook, who co-wrote the episodes with John Griffith Bowen. The incidents in Cook's novel were inspired by his own mother's experiences.

In 1990 ITV broadcast a feature-length pilot, Missing Persons, featuring Tony Melody as Robert Wainthropp, but ITV opted not to pursue a series.

The BBC series was filmed primarily in Burnley, Darwen, Blackburn, Rossendale, Bolton and other locations in Lancashire.

The music for the series was composed by Nigel Hess, and in 1997 the title track was awarded the Ivor Novello Award for best television theme.

The BBC series was popular with viewers, but no further episodes were commissioned after 1998. In 2008 Patricia Routledge said in an interview that the cast and crew had been told by the BBC at the end of the fourth series that a fifth series would be commissioned, but it never was.[2]

DVD releases[edit]

The BBC series has been released on DVD by BBC Home Video in the UK, by Acorn Media in the United States, by Madman Films in Australia, and by Lime-Lights Pictures in Belgium and the Netherlands.

DVD Name Release Date
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Series 1 7 September 2004 11 October 2004 31 October 2007
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Series 2 9 August 2005 22 January 2007 9 April 2008
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Series 3 31 January 2006 5 March 2007 9 July 2008
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Series 4 27 June 2006 10 September 2007 8 October 2008
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Collection 4 September 2007 7 January 2008 20 October 2009


  1. ^ "A Minor Operation," Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, original air date 16 January 1998
  2. ^ Martin, Nicole. "Actress Patricia Routledge Attacks BBC for Dropping Detective Series", The Daily Telegraph, 26 June 2008. Retrieved on 27 June 2008.

External links[edit]