Murder Most Horrid
|Murder Most Horrid|
|Genre||British dark comedy
|Created by||Paul Smith|
|Developed by||Talkback Productions|
|Theme music composer||Simon Brint
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||4|
|No. of episodes||24|
|Executive producer(s)||Peter Fincham|
Michael John Bateman
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original channel||BBC Two|
|Picture format||4:3 (1991-1996)
|Original run||14 November 1991– 2 April 1999|
Created by Paul Smith, who also co-created Colin's Sandwich (with Terry Kyan, as noted below) and has written for The Brittas Empire, among other programmes, the series starred French as a different character in each episode. Many episodes were directed by the noted director Bob Spiers, who also worked with French on The Comic Strip Presents... and French and Saunders.
Most episodes parodied the thriller and murder mystery genres with one notable episode lampooning the trials and tribulations of being a children's presenter in general, and Blue Peter in particular. In 1998, this episode ("Murder at Tea-Time") was repeated to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Blue Peter, as part of a section entitled "Spoof Peter", which also featured (among others) the Python skit "How to Do It".
Each episode was standalone, and the episodes were written by different writers or writing teams with several contributing multiple episodes across the four series. Among these writers, the pairing of series-creator Paul Smith with Terry Kyan (who had previously collaborated on Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones) is particularly notable. The two would subsequently create and write Bonjour la Classe, starring Nigel Planer.
Other series writers included Private Eye editor and Have I Got News For You stalwart Ian Hislop, Press Gang creator and Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat, award-winning children's author Anthony Horowitz, Nick Newman and John O'Farrell.
Episodes in series 1 mostly opened with French selecting and reading from a book, usually a quotation actually or allegedly from Shakespeare; series 2 onward dropped this opening. The series' theme song, which featured at the end of the episode, was sung by Ruby Turner. The lyrics changed between episodes, the penultimate line always a word rhyming with "horrid", sometimes humorously forced. The murders ranged from the straightforward to the bizarre, with the murder weapon shown on a pedestal during the end credits.
Episodes and Dawn French's characters
Series 1 (1991)
- "The Case of the Missing" - with French as WPC Diane Softly, traffic officer
- "The Girl from Ipanema" - with French as Maria, a Brazilian immigrant who moves in with the Howling family.
- "He Died a Death" - with French as Judy Talent, an actress in a play
- "A Determined Woman" - with French as Rita Proops, a scientist
- "Murder at Tea Time" - with French as Bunty Bresslaw, presenter of children's TV show Write Away.
- "Mrs. Hat and Mrs. Red" - with French as Katie Hatcliffe and Sonya Redfern, two identical-looking women with opposite personalities
|#||Title||Director||Writer(s)||Guest actors||UK air date|
|1||"The Case of the Missing"||Bob Spiers||Ian Hislop
|John Boswall (Judge), Paul-Mark Elliott (Max Rammell), Stephen Frost (Sgt. Dawkins), Gary Love (Constable Williams), Timothy Spall (Pathologist), Geoffrey McGivern (Mason), Bill Paterson (Chief Inspector)||14 November 1991|
|A traffic WPC is suddenly put in charge of a seemingly straightforward murder case, which gradually becomes more complex and mysterious.|
|2||"The Girl from Ipanema"||Bob Spiers||Terry Kyan
|Marsha Fitzalan (Lydia's friend), James Cossins (Sir Hugh Lotterby), Jane Asher (Lydia Howling), Jacey Salles (Silvia), Martin Jarvis (Maurice Howling), Christopher Good (Leonard)||21 November 1991|
|When housekeeper Maria arrives at the house of MP Howling and his wife Lydia, she doesn't quite find things the way she expected. But one day, Maria witnesses a violent attack on Lydia by her husband and things start to take a turn for the better.|
|3||"He Died a Death"||Bob Spiers||Nick Newman
|Kevin R. McNally (Inspector Turner), Stephen Moore (Basil Hampton), Kevin Allen (Simon Pleasance), Kenneth Cranham (Inspector Salford), Ben Miller (PC Watkins), Robin Driscoll (Reg), Tony Slattery (Tony Sparkle), Harriet Thorpe (Sarah Deveraux), Greg Cruttwell (Timmy Duval), Togo Igawa (Japanese tourist)||28 November 1991|
|Backstage at a London theatre, rivalry turns into suspicion when one of the cast is murdered during a performance.|
|4||"Determined Woman"||James Hendrie||James Hendrie||Michael Sharvell-Martin (Judge), Soo Drouet (Porter), Caroline Blakiston (Dr. Rachel Vine), Kathy Burke (Helen), Jim Broadbent (Selwyn Proops)||5 December 1991|
|Scientist Rita Proops brings her equipment home to start working on the ultimate invention — the time machine. But this causes friction at home with disastrous results.|
|5||"Murder at Tea Time"||Bob Spiers||Jez Alborough
|Jane Booker (Sally), Geraldine McNulty (Mandi), Rebecca Stevens (Lizzie), David Harewood (Jonathon), Dexter Fletcher (Colin), Marco Williamson (Donald)||12 December 1991|
|Bunty is a successful children's television presenter, an expert in sticky-back plastic and a favourite with the young viewers of Write Away. However, when her younger co-presenter is asked to pose for a wax modelling session at Madame Tussauds, jealousy arises off camera, and Bunty decides to put her young rival in his place.|
|6||"Mrs Hat and Mrs Red"||Bob Spiers||Dawn French
|Robert Llewellyn (Taxi Driver), Jim Carter (Roy Redfern), Kate McEnery (Jemima Redfern), Ricco Ross (Gary), Geoffrey McGivern (Guy), Beresford Le Roy (Supermarket Manager), Claire Cathcart (Cashier), Brian McCardie (Supermarket Assistant), Mia Soteriou (Pianist), Susie Fairfax (Friend), Harriet Thorpe (Friend), Matilda Thorpe (Friend), Francesca Brill (Jemima's Friend)||19 December 1991|
|Mrs Hat is shocked when she bumps into her doppelganger, and ends up following her home. She finds herself literally stepping into her shoes and taking over her luxurious lifestyle.|
Series 2 (1994)
- "Overkill" - with French as Tina Mellish, social worker turned reluctant assassin; also features Emma Amos, Amanda Donohoe, Colin Salmon, Peter Vaughan and Geoffrey McGivern
- "Lady Luck" - with Dawn as Denise Cunningham, hairdresser; also features Ann Bryson and Sean Gallagher
- "A Severe Case of Death" - with French as Maud Jenkins/'Dr Adams', Victorian maid turned cross-dressing doctor; also features Lucy Benjamin, John Fortune, Timothy West, James Saxon, Georgina Hale, Lucy Benjamin, David Gooderson, Brian Hibbard and Roy Evans
- "We All Hate Granny" - with French as Lily Gibbs, grandmother; also features James Fleet and Victoria Wicks
- "Mangez Merveillac" - with French as Verity Hodge, travel and cookery writer; also features Jane Booker, Philip Jackson, Kevin McNally and Clarke Peters
- "Smashing Bird" - with French as Vikky, nightclub singer; also features David Bamber, Hywel Bennett, Philip Martin Brown, Mark McGann and Ray Winstone
Series 3 (1996)
- "Girl Friday" - with French as Sally Fairfax, P.A.; also features Nigel Havers and Geraldine McNulty
- "A Life or Death Operation" - with French as Kate Marshall, surgeon and TV presenter; also features John Bird and Brigit Forsyth
- "Dying Live" - with French as Daisy Talwinning, sacked abattoir worker; also features Jim Carter, Helen Lederer and John Thomson
- "The Body Politic" - with French as Linda Bryce, schoolteacher and wife of the Leader of the Opposition; also features Hugh Laurie and John Bennett
- "Confess" - with French as Wendy Hodge, police sergeant; also features Minnie Driver, Roger Lloyd-Pack and Clive Russell
- "Dead on Time" - with French as The Grim Reaper; also features Sophie Okonedo, Danny Webb and Brian Capron
Series 4 (1999)
- "Frozen" - with French as Lily Wood-Newton, churchgoer and pillar of the community; also features David Battley and Joanna Scanlan
- "Going Solo" - with French as Tracey Phillips, yachtswoman; also features Jim Carter, Liam Hess and Sarah Lancashire
- "Whoopi Stone" - with French as Barbara Greaves/Whoopi Stone, police constable turned 'Queen of New York'; also features Jamie Foreman and Will Barton
- "Confessions of a Murderer" - with French as Harriet Snellgrove, serial confessor and nuisance; also features Hugh Bonneville, Graeme Garden and Philip Jackson - Director Edgar Wright
- "Elvis, Jesus and Zack" - with French as Jill Tanner, head of the Obituaries Department at Broadcast One; also features Sean Hughes, Janette Krankie, Chris Langham, Paul Reynolds, Nick Stringer, Pip Torrens and Jake Wood
- "Dinner at Tiffany's" - with French as Tiffany Drapes, school dinner lady; also features Frances Barber, Thelma Barlow, Geraldine McNulty and Peter Serafinowicz
Video and DVD releases
Two videos of the series were released by the BBC in 1996, through BBC Worldwide/Talkback (the former of which became 2|entertain). Both were released on 7 May 1996, the first containing three episodes from series one and the second, three episodes from series two. These two series were not repeated on British television as often as the later series and, as a result, episodes not featured on the videos released by the BBC (The Case of the Missing, He Died A Death, Mrs Hat and Mrs Red, A Severe Case of Death, We All Hate Granny and Smashing Bird) have proven fairly difficult to view.
- Murder Most Horrid: The Girl from Ipanema/A Determined Woman/Murder at Tea-Time (BBCV5854) EAN: 5032680800767
- Murder Most Horrid: Overkill/Lady Luck/Mangez Merveillac (BBCV5855) EAN: 5014503585525
DVD (Region 2)
- Murder Most Horrid: Volume 1 was released by Fremantle Media on the 10 March 2008. The second series was released on 10 September 2012, with the third and fourth being due for release on 30 September 2013.
- Murder Most Horrid: The Complete Collection was released 18 November 2013 by Freemantle Media.
- Here's one the BBC made 40 years earlier: Blue Peter Celebration. Retrieved 11 January 2008
- "Bonjour la Classe" Episode Guide at epguides.com. Retrieved 11 January 2008
- British Comedy Award Winners of 1994 at IMDB. Retrieved 11 January 2008
- Amazon UK. "Murder Most Horrid - Series 3 & 4". Retrieved 12 July 2013.
- Amazon UK. "Murder Most Horrid - The Complete Collection". Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Murder Most Horrid at BBC Programmes.
- Murder Most Horrid at BBC Online Comedy Guide.
- Murder Most Horrid at Phill.co.uk Comedy Guide.
- Murder Most Horrid at TV.com .
- Murder Most Horrid at the Internet Movie Database.