Acerbic and sarcastic British TV detectives

Vera and Lewis are two of my favorites. Who are some other great British (or other) TV detectives with similar personalities?

Rebus is really good, and very acerbic.


I think ascerbity is part of the entrance exam.

Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series is beautiful in this regard. Go with the novels. The television adaptation is not bad, but when it moves off the books and into a separate plot-line I think it loses something.

Dan Kavanagh’s Duffy series - four shortish books about a solo private investigator are a delight. Kavanagh has a day job as Julian Barnes.

Second the Rebus suggestion.

You like Lewis? What about Morse?

Joanna Scanlan in No Offence.

That would be my answer.

Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald from the series Cracker. He’s not a detective, but a criminal psychologist working with the police to solve crimes. Close enough?

I second Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald, one of Robbie Coltrane’s best roles. “I smoke too much, drink too much, gamble too much…I am too much.”

I like Morse too, just not as much as Lewis. Morse is a bit too serious and brooding for my tastes, though it’s still a fine show.

If you haven’t already, try Endeavour; the prequel to Morse. It’s just superb.

My first thought. Go Viv!

Scanlan really puts herself out there, not shy at all.

Is it technically lying to your boss if you’re sarcastic and they don’t get it? (And you know they won’t.)

I know he’s a barrister, but he does solve mysteries. Rumpole of the Bailey!

I’ve seen it, and it’s great, but it doesn’t tickle me the same way Vera and Lewis do.

Agreed, although I prefer Ken Stott as Rebus to John Hannah. Hannah was too young, too fresh-faced for the role.

Came in here to say this. Coltrane was great in that role.

I’ve just binged and thoroughly enjoyed Inspector George Gently starring Martin Shaw.
8 seasons of 2-4 90 minute episodes spanning the years 1964-1970.
Old-fashioned coppering, drinking whiskey in the office and giving suspects a slap if they are smartarse.
Martin Shaw is superb, and the series looks fantastic. They’ve done a brilliant job of portraying the north of England in the 60’s.

^ True this. I’ve enjoyed the Endeavour series, having been a fan of Morse. But frequently it seems to be a pale shadow of the superior George Gently episodes. (Both series are set in about the same time period.)

Gently’s relationship with the extremely morally-conflicted D.S. Bacchus is complex and always moving, and the plots in general are a cut above the usual standard for British Detectives shows.

And as far as “acerbic and sarcastic” is concerned, I gather that Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It is supposed to be top-of-the-line. (Have seen only excerpts so I can’t speak authoritatively.)

His personality fits my OP, though he seems to be particularly morally degenerate for a TV protagonist in the genre. I like the show and find him entertaining, though.