If you are a cosy murder mystery fan, The Sister Boniface Mysteries is right up your alley. Set in a small fictional village in the Cotswolds, one that rejoices in the dramatic name of Great Slaughter (one wonders of what?), this is the place for plenty of murders—as one can see, small villages are hotbeds of intrigue, mystery, and death. Sister Boniface (brilliantly played by Lorna Watson) is a Catholic nun at St. Vincent’s convent who spends much of her time solving murders, using new-fangled scientific techniques, and making undrinkable wine, using old-fangled techniques. Although the Reverend Mother of the convent frowns upon Sister Boniface’s propensity for solving crimes, she does allow the good sister some leeway. After all, someone must solve the murders!
Bolstering the crime solving squad are Max Brown as Detective Inspector Sam Gillespie; Jerry Iwu as Felix Livingstone, a Detective Sergeant on secondment from Bermuda, whose dream is to be assigned to Scotland Yard; Miranda Raison as Ruth Penny, the up-and-coming newspaper reporter; and Ami Metcalf as Constable Peggy Button. Belinda Lang stars as Mrs Clam, Sam and Felix’s landlady. Robert Daws is Chief Constable Hector Lowsley, who seems very confused that society is actually considering incorporating the fairer (aka weaker) sex into jobs such as police work and science. For such a small village, there are murders a-plenty, and one might even say Great Slaughter’s crime fighting squad gives Father Brown a run for his money!
Some questions hesitant viewers might ask: will I enjoy it? Of course you will; what’s not to like about a murder mystery? Is it funny? You will scream with laughter. Will I enjoy the characters? If you loved Fawlty Towers, ‘All ‘Allo, and the like, this is the series for you. Is it racist? Everyone keeps mixing up Felix’s home country of Bermuda with Barbados, but I don’t think that counts. Are the stories good? Absolutely! Is it socially and politically correct? Not at all so if that’s what bothers you, don’t watch. Are the characters stereotypes? Definitely, and they are just adorable. Mrs Clam is a real scene-stealer and is so funny that I am sure she must have everyone falling about laughing behind the scenes.
No, seriously, this is one of the best and funniest series I have ever watched. It is set in the 1960s and the period detail is superb. The not-a-romance between the attractive, career-driven Ruth and the handsome (if a bit thick in the women department) Sam, who love to hate each other and accuse each other of ruining the investigation, police and reportage, is also very sweet, especially since everyone else can see the sparks flying and feel the sizzle between them. There is no wokery although a couple of episodes veered that way, saved only by historical truths. The themes addressed also include the aftermath of World War 2, social issues of a changing Britain, and the development of women’s roles in a new society. But these are all handled within the ambit of the murder mystery and the fun and high jinks that abound, so fear not, you won’t be getting a lesson in anything. Just a darn good murder investigation! Well worth watching. I can’t wait for series two!