Before there was Miss Fisher, there was Mrs. Bradley solving murders in the roaring twenties with verve and wit, though her wit is more acerbic than playful. Based on Gladys Mitchell’s novels, this BBC series stars the wonderful Diana Rigg as this incisive, no-nonsense woman, who, having cast off the bonds of a stultifying marriage some time ago, is now an admired criminologist drawing on her study of toxicology, ballistics, and Freudian psychology to decipher whodunit. The plots are deftly woven, the crimes often naturally growing out of contemporary issues of women’s oppression, class and ethnic prejudice, or the troubled depths of psychological repression. Her chauffer George’s (Neil Dudgeon) nerve, humor, and somewhat shady past provide invaluable aid. Mrs. Bradley’s breaking the fourth wall, from time to time, to share with her audience a dryly witty appraisal of her era’s folly or hypocrisy usually works – although her doing so when other characters are nearby sometimes can be confusing about who’s being addressed.
The costuming is an absolute delight! Rigg’s ensembles are exquisitely striking, with hats that are to die for! I especially adore her character’s penchant for the darnedest geometric eccentricities in head gear. I could almost trade in my love of forties fashion for the sleek, flattering, and elegant styles in complimentary colors that Mrs. Bradley sports. And I’ve never seen so many sleek bobs and shingles since Kay Francis’s early days at Paramount. Then there’s the elegant car in which George transports her – ah, to be able to travel in such style. The use of period music and other props works well, with “You’re the Cream in My Coffee,” the program’s theme, heard as a clarinet snaking through the background at telling points. There are only five episodes, but they are five jewels. It’s a pity the program didn’t last longer. As it is a BBC production, David Tennant shows up at least once. Click here for the IMDB web page and here to watch an episode on YouTube.
Photo one: https://www.pinterest.com/delanakeefer/mrs-bradley-mysteries/