Show Discussion: Armchair Detectives

By | November 19, 2017

Weekdays, 2:15pm,
BBC1

BBC1’s newest star of daytime Susan Calman presides as three armchair detectives attempt to solve a murder in a fictional Scottish village by watching an investigation play out in front of them.

You can definitely see the appeal behind commissioning such a show – detective dramas are massively popular (Father Brown is about twice as popular as any quiz in the slot, for example) and people like quizzes so why not combine the two? The potential downside of this, of course, is that you annoy fans of one by mixing it with the other.

Despite the people coming up with the cases being prominent Bar members, I actually don’t know all that much about the format and how it works, so fingers crossed it’s good. If you watch it, let us know what you think in the comments.

36 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Armchair Detectives

  1. Marcoraymondo

    Well, as expected this was definitely my cup of tea. Initial thoughts were it was quite a gentle and quaint approach to murder mysteries and Susan Calman did a sterling job of keeping it light hearted. The play along at home appeal was a bit difficult as I found myself wanting to get a longer look at the evidence (especially with regards the text messages on screen) but I still managed to nab the right suspect by the end.

    And remember – no one gets away with murder in Mortcliff!

    Reply
    1. Chris

      I was really keen on seeing the shipping label for longer than it was up. I wanted to calculate the volume vs. the orange juice being shipped. Fortunately it was on display fully in the next acted scene, which makes me wonder whether the evidence chosen changes the scene they get to see, since everything about the crate was repeated, or whether some pieces of evidence are timewasters.

      Reply
      1. Marcoraymondo

        I had a feeling the watch evidence was going to prove that his watch was a fake. I wonder if the contestants thought the same?

        Reply
      2. David B

        The evidence is offered in a prescribed order but there may be one or two ‘dud’ picks which either tell you stuff you already know or stuff that’s not seemingly relevant.

        You’re right about the label. It was downplayed or left as something for the uber-viewer to spot, but the total volume does not match the dimensions of the crate given. Basically the orange juice was covering a large secret compartment of watches behind it, which is why the crate is seen to be leaning in the painting and is the reason why the importer wanted to buy the painting.

        As it’s show 1, the basic solution is fairly straightforward but they will get more complicated as the run goes on. There’s definitely some nice Columbo-like “aha” moments to be had in shows 2 and 3.

        Reply
  2. Clive of Legend

    Good fun! Started off a little slow but built up the mystery pretty well. Lovely music and Susan on form.
    Just a shame they don’t get to investigate the crime scene à la, well, Crime Scene. Less fun watching contestants watch actors investigate than actually getting stuck in themselves.

    Reply
  3. Danny Kerner

    Liked the format, first gameshow in a while to give no cash prize but the statue is built quite well. Only slight negative is that they have recycled the For what it’s worth set.

    Reply
  4. Chris

    Well I really enjoyed it. Susan was a great choice apparently, with the forensic science training, and she did a great job with the contestants and keeping it all moving along. It was fun to play along, and I was happy to have spotted the murder weapon that either nobody discussed or they edited away, and then the murderer. Good play-along value on twitter I found too. I wasn’t quite sure about the acted scenes, were they trying to be comic with the main detective or is that going to be some long running mystery?

    Reply
    1. David B

      There’s meant to be a light touch of comedy here and there. I think in this case it’s a reference to a running gag about Knight being a vegan.

      Reply
      1. Mathew Palmieri

        do you think that there should be a long running mystery/storyline in this show? i dunno how that work. maybe that there should be a tournament format, but it get repetitive.
        I liked it. i wrongly accused darren treadwell (the chinese Watch importer/bootleger) as the killer. i thoguht since patrica made a painting that could expose him of a crime, he would try to buy it. if not that, then out right steal it, and patrica would encounter him and he would kill her. i didint pay attention to the subplot about jeffrey selling the gallery to her. i… dont get that. why would he kill his potential buyer and steal the painting she made? when he could juist idunno, threaten to not open the exhibition unless she bought it.

        Reply
  5. Greg

    Just caught up on Iplayer and have to say this is the perfect commission for the timeslot. The afternoon audience are going to love the gentle approach to a light afternoon drama that this brings, I can see this having some very ardent fans. But will this have mass appeal? I am not so sure. Susan Calman is an excellent choice of host it was good to see some established actors on screen, as a show like this could end up being cheesey if not done right.

    All in all this was a lot better than I was expecting.

    Reply
  6. David B

    Incidentally, I believe these are being shown in recorded order – a la Taskmaster – so that they can potentially back-ref previous contestant appearances. So if it looked like it took Susan half an episode to relax into it, that’s why.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Sullivan

      Well, I certainly recognised Wisdom from today’s show as he’d previously been on Impossible not long back. Can’t remember if he was on S2 or 3, though.

      Reply
  7. Brig Bother Post author

    I couldn’t really get into it, although I accept that may very well be my fault rather than the show’s, I’m not a massive murder-mystery person and with all the rounds felt rather bitty and the acting not all that convincing. I think Susan holds it together well though.

    Interested to see how it does, anyway.

    Reply
  8. CeleTheRef

    The Wall debuts in Italy and narrowly beats L’Eredità!

    The Wall 3,706,000 (23.2%) / 5,027,000 (23.8%)
    L’Eredità 3,457,000 (19.3%) / 5,007,000 (23.2%)

    For the records, the next most watched program at that time was an episode of NCIS with 1.2 million.

    Reply
  9. Brekkie

    Thought this would be right up my street but found the first episode pretty woeful and not really a fan of Susan Calman as host. Will give them credit though for not using a celebrity panel.

    Reply
    1. David B

      So, some episode 2 bonus tracks. The detectives spotted the Queen poster in the son’s house, but did you notice the victim was wearing a Queen T-shirt in his workshop? Unable to escape from the fumes, he left a dying message to say where he’d hidden the camera card for his son – behind the ‘queen’ on the stamp. As both he and his son were Queen fans, his dying message consisted of the names of three Queen songs (not just the one that Audrey mentioned).

      Reply
      1. Chris

        I caught all the titles, but hadn’t noticed the shirt. After the first skit, I was convinced that the ‘PH’ on the hankerchief was going to be cyrillic, because I’d watched Murder on the Orient Express (the Finney one) at the weekend :p

        Reply
  10. Brig Bother Post author

    It’s early days, but the overnights are suggesting it’s Not A Hit regrettably – between 700k and 750k for the end of week one. Although it’s probably a bit more consolidation friendly than the usual quizzes so who knows?

    I absolutely understand the commission, and it was definitely worth trying, suspect with a bigger budget and more time something a bit more successful might have come out of it.

    Reply
    1. Mathew Palmieri

      Out of The Six Visceral Reactions, what would you give it. Me? a Cat1, Though that’s my opinion..

      Reply
    2. David B

      The one thing about the BBC is that they also look at the audience Appreciation Index (AI) scores, which they don’t make public. A mid-performing show could be recommissioned off the back of a *really* loyal audience. Reaction started mixed and got much better through the week. Yes, that’s a self-selecting feedback loop, but so was OC when it started.

      I’d also point out that even the ‘hit’ Tenable can vary by 200,000 viewers from day to day, just depending on the weather and what else is on telly.

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        The BBC seem to give everything a second go these days so you’ll probably be OK.

        “Hit” Tenable does indeed vary, but its trend line across the series is a gentle incline, and it’s already beating pretty much everything else tried in the slot with clear water.

        Reply
      2. Chris M. Dickson

        I’ve always wondered how the Doctor Who fans seem to know the AI scores for each episode.

        Out of curiosity, do you know anything about Only Connect AI scores, and their changes from one series to the next? (And, implicitly, if you do know anything, are you at liberty to reveal them?)

        Reply
        1. David B

          Doctor Who fans know because they’ll have a mole (if not three) who have access to the numbers. Ratings and AI are available to all BBC staffers on their Intranet.

          Late BBC4-phase OC used to get 89 or 90 (out of 100) as would a handful of other shows. Only things like Attenborough doccos or landmark dramas would get higher (91 or 92). I seem to remember that they do AI scores for the other channels (by way of comparison) and the lowest AI on TV at the time I had access to the figures was the Party Political Broadcasts, followed by the Jonathan Ross Show.

          Reply
  11. Andrew Sullivan

    Might as well give my 2 cents on the matter. I’m actually liking the show! I’m greatly enjoying the play-along element with working out who the murderer is in each show, although I only managed to get the right suspect on 2 shows, and one of those was more luck than management, but I do my deductions mentally rather than write everything down in a notepad 😀

    Kudos to both Dan and David B for their input to a very interesting show, and hopefully it gets another go at some point 🙂

    Reply
  12. Daniel Peake

    Thanks for the lovely comments – I’m glad you’re all (mostly) liking the show!

    David and I had great fun making up these cases, some get quite devious (see: wooden leg). I’m impressed with the amount of general knowledge we were able to put in (there’s one case of David’s coming up that I love in that respect), and the favourite case I worked on is aired on Friday, ‘The Pigeon Detectives’.

    Reply
  13. Malcolm Owen

    At the mid-point of the run, I’d say it’s a decent show for daytime. Not quite Columbo, but good enough for a rainy afternoon.
    Calman did initially seem an odd choice, but while the intros and outros are a bit stiff, she does well at interacting with the contestants, which is the main thing. Maybe she could get away with hosting the show with more tongue in cheek if there’s a second season.
    Also, praise to whomever came up with the torn book prop. It’s one thing to remember to put indentations in the remaining rear pages, it’s another to make it just about readable on camera without doing any pencil rubbing trickery…

    Reply
  14. Scousegirl

    Really didn’t like the first episode but gave it a chance and it’s settled in nicely. It’s quite well-written but the acting’s pretty woeful. Thought it was a deliberate sending-up at first, now it seems to be just rather amateur.
    However I like it enough to keep watching and it’s good to have a change from quizzes, specially when a new series is followed immediately by repeats.
    I love Susan Calman, just hope she won’t suffer from over-exposure.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *