The Last Detective

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This article is about the television series. For the Elvis Cole novel by Robert Crais, see The Last Detective (novel).
The Last Detective
Genre Drama
Created by Leslie Thomas
Written by Richard Harris
Starring Peter Davison
Sean Hughes
Emma Amos
Rob Spendlove
Charles De'Ath
Vineeta Rishi
Elizabeth Bennett
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 4
No. of episodes 17 (list of episodes)
Running time 60 mins.
Distributor ITV Studios
Original network ITV1
Picture format 16:9
Original release 7 February 2003 – 31 May 2007

The Last Detective is a former ITV drama, broadcast between 7 February 2003 and 31 May 2007, starring Peter Davison as the title character, Detective Constable "Dangerous Davies". The series is based on the "Dangerous Davies" series of novels written by Leslie Thomas, and was filmed in the north London suburbs of Willesden, Neasden and Harlesden. The series gentle but engrossing nature was in stark contrast to other hard-hitting police dramas of the time, but this appeared to be a winning formula, becoming a surprise rating success.

The first series aired in 2003, with three more seasons following it. The first, second and third seasons all consist of four 70-minute episodes (90-minutes with advertisements). The fourth series saw the format change to 90-minute episodes (120-minutes with advertises), and is slightly longer, encompassing five episodes in the series. After a total of seventeen episodes, production company Granada, who produced the programme, stated that the series had been axed due to falling viewing figures, and that the fourth series would be the last.[1]

The Granada series was not the first time that the title character had appeared on television. He previously appeared in a TV movie, first broadcast in 1981, starring Bernard Cribbins.


The series follows Detective Constable "Dangerous" Davies. Davies discovered a crime committed by a fellow officer at the opening of the series, and is treated as a pariah by his colleagues as a consequence. Moreover, he is committed to his work and is staunchly humane, leading to a view of his being soft by colleagues,[citation needed] and a degree of grudging respect from local criminals. Recurring themes include Davies solving the apparently minor crimes he is given, often resolving more complex and associated crimes (historical or contemporary), and Davies repeatedly being the target of practical jokes by younger but more well positioned detectives in his unit.[citation needed]

As the series progresses his reputation improves with his superior, Detective Inspector (DI) Aspinall, who realises that Davies' intelligence and fair but determined methods make him the best policeman in his squad. A strained mutual respect develops between the two characters as Davies increasingly finds the time to try to understand the troubled, hard drinking DI and his history (and demons).

The other major aspect of the series concerns Davies' private life, which centres on his estranged wife, Julie (played by actress Emma Amos). The storyline regularly integrates Davies' attempts to address the loss of his wife's respect and to repair the damage done to their marriage after his career stalls in the Metropolitan Police Force;[citation needed] for instance, the estranged character returns to pick up a dog whose custody he shares with Julie (see below), to serve as her occasional chauffeur, and to carry out routine household maintenance at the family home (occasionally intersecting with Julie's new relational interests).[citation needed]

His work and personal life intertwine in interactions with his friend, the irreverent and rather feckless Mod (short for Modesty) Lewis, played by the Irish comedian Sean Hughes, which include their park bench talks about cases and life,[citation needed] Davies' chauffeuring the unlicensed Mod, and Davies' walking his dog—an unnamed, but consistent character, a Landseer in early episodes, and later a St Bernard. Other recurring plot elements are the now "semi-detached" Davies' interactions with various female characters, episode by episode,[citation needed] and his relationship with Mrs Fulljames (Elizabeth Bennett), the romantic daydreaming landlady of the Bali-Hai Guest House, where he resides for a period.



Series 1 (2003)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "The Last Detective" Richard Harris Nick Hurran 6.25m 7 February 2003
Davies' investigation into the disappearance of a seventeen-year-old girl deepens when he discovers evidence which suggests she was murdered.
2 "Moonlight" Richard Harris Douglas Mackinnon 6.26m 14 February 2003
The disappearance of an elderly philanthropist takes an interesting turn when his abandoned car is found parked in the grounds of Heathrow Airport.
3 "Tricia" Richard Harris Pip Broughton 5.74m 21 February 2003
Davies discovers a link between three separate investigations - an armed robbery at a job centre, the disappearance of a pensioner and a routine house burglary.
4 "Lofty" Richard Harris Matthew Evans 6.18m 28 February 2003
Davies investigates the drowning of a local character known for collecting discarded scraps of paper - but he stumble across someone's well kept secrets?

Series 2 (2004)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Christine" Richard Harris Ferdinand Fairfax 6.18m 13 February 2004
Davies investigates the murder of a former Lottery winner after she is burned to death, whilst drunk in a locked room in a suspected arson attack.
2 "The Long Bank Holiday" Richard Harris Moira Armstrong 5.77m 20 February 2004
Davies has to juggle a possible suicide, a murderer who has absconded from prison, the discovery of human remains in a local garden and a spate of computer thefts.
3 "Benefit to Mankind" Michael Aitkins Gavin Millar 5.65m 27 February 2004
When the body of a medical researcher is found in the river, Davies suspects the case may be suicide - until the man's co-worker later disappears.
4 "Dangerous and the Lonely Hearts" Russell Lewis David Tucker 5.74m 5 March 2004
The case of a young Eastern-European girl who is arrested for shoplifting takes a bizarre turn when police arrive to interview her mother - and find she has been strangled.

Series 3 (2005)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Friends Reunited" Kevin Clarke A.J. Quinn 6.37m 29 May 2005
Davies investigates a life-long feud between a group of thirty-something graduates, whose tensions have somewhat appeared to boil to the surface.
2 "Towpaths of Glory" Richard Harris David Tucker 6.18m 5 June 2005
A decorated war hero, with a history of domestic violence against his wife, is found shot through the head on a garbage pile at the local landfill.
3 "Three Steps to Hendon" Tim Vaughan Moira Armstrong 6.10m 12 June 2005
The lead singer of a rock and roll band from the 1970s is found dead, having been murdered with a whiskey bottle stuffed down his throat.
4 "Willesden Confidential" Russell Lewis Matthew Evans 5.84m 19 June 2005
Davies investigates the murder of a stock car driver whose car exploded during a race at the local stadium due to a dodgy fuel supply line.

Series 4 (2007)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Once Upon a Time on the Westway" Matthew Thomas Nick Laughland 4.48m 3 May 2007
A notorious diamond robber, Jimmy Vincent, is released from prison, and within hours, an armed robbery involving the theft of diamonds is reported.
2 "Dangerous Liasons" Ed McCardie David Tucker 4.52m 10 May 2007
The death of an amateur photographer uncovers a snuff film made in the 1980s, which shows footage of a young girl who was later found murdered.
3 "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Willesden" Richard Leslie Douglas Mackinnon 3.98m 17 May 2007
The poisoning of a stand-up comedian working the club circuit leads Davies into the murky world of comedy rivalry and playboy nightlife.
4 "The Man from Montevideo" Matthew Thomas Sandy Johnson 4.34m 24 May 2007
Davies investigates the murder of a limousine driver who is found at the wheel of his limo, with his neck having been slashed with a broken bottle.
5 "The Dead Peasant's Society" Ed McCardie Martyn Friend 3.92m 31 May 2007
Davies investigates the death of Daniel Boden, who is found dead at the wheel of his car on a football pitch, and uncovers a link to a local lodge.

Home media[edit]

The Last Detective: Complete Collection was released on Region 1 DVD on 20 January 2009 and includes all 17 episodes of the TV show, the earlier TV movie, and other features including an interview with Peter Davison. The DVD set is distributed by Acorn Media UK.

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert Lloyd, 2009, "What You're Watching, DVD reviews: 'George Gently' and 'The Last Detective,'" LA Times (online), February 18, 2009, see [1], accessed 27 May 2015.
  • Lars Walker, 2012, "Netflix Review: 'The Last Detective,'" Brandywine Books (online), October 30, 2012, see [2], accessed 27 May 2015.
  • Lawrence Russell, 2007, "The Last Detective," Culture Court (online), August 2007, see [3], accessed 27 May 2015.
  • Anon., 2015, "The Last Detective," TVTropes (online), see [4], accessed 27 May 2015.


External links[edit]