Jonathan Creek

Jonathan Creek

Infobox Television
show_name = Jonathan Creek


caption = "Jonathan Creek"'s intertitle
format = Drama
runtime = 60 minutes (Series 1 & 4)
50 minutes (Series 2 & 3)
2 x 90 minutes
1 x 120 minutes
creator = David Renwick
starring = Alan Davies
Caroline Quentin
Stuart Milligan
Julia Sawalha
Adrian Edmondson
country = UK
network = BBC
first_aired = 10 May 1997-
num_episodes = 25
imdb_id = 0118363

"Jonathan Creek" is a British mystery television series produced by the BBC and written by David Renwick. It ran for four series and two Christmas specials from 1997 to 2004, and a new Christmas special will air in 2008. The series is primarily a crime drama about a magician's assistant who investigates strange crimes such as locked-room murders and impossible thefts. The crimes appear to be magical but the detective soon proves that there are down-to-earth explanations for them including trickery and sleight-of-hand but nothing actually magical.

The cult success of the series won it the BAFTA for Best Drama Series in 1998. It was actually notable for featuring comic characters and sub-plots which lent a lot of humour to the series. Unusually, it was produced by the BBC's in-house Entertainment department rather than the Drama department — this was because Renwick preferred working with people he knew rather than the people at Drama who might not share his vision."The World of Jonathan Creek" by Steve Clark, BBC Worldwide Ltd] When the series was made, it included stars and guest-stars such as Bob Monkhouse, Griff Rhys Jones, Rik Mayall and John Bird, who are mainly associated with comedy, but who put on straight performances.

Concept and casting

David Renwick wanted to write a detective series that dealt with the actual work of detection rather than action, as most crime dramas appeared to focus on at the time."The World of Jonathan Creek" by Steve Clark, BBC Worldwide Ltd] Also, whereas most of these were about "who did it" ("Inspector Morse" or "Taggart") and "why it was done" ("Cracker"), this new series would be about "how it was done" with an element of magic thrown in, such as murders committed in locked rooms, a person being in two places at once or impossible thefts; finding a culprit would still be part of the detective's job but the emphasis would be on how the crime was committed.

Magic would play an important part of the series, but it would be in the form of tricks and sleight-of-hand used by stage magicians to deceive their audiences. The programme often exposed how such tricks are actually done, the way being quite "banal" compared to the trick itself.

The series would also focus on the relationship between Creek and his collaborator Maddie Magellan, a writer who often uses dishonest means in order to expose miscarriages of justice. It would be a mainly platonic one, though they do at some stage consummate their relationship only to agree that it must never happen again. (In his early planning, Renwick had thought that Maddie should be Creek's stepmother and that they would investigate crime in memory of his murdered father. However, he decided that the concept of the avenging son was too "Batman" and in the series Creek's parents are mentioned as having moved to America.)"The World of Jonathan Creek" by Steve Clark, BBC Worldwide Ltd]

Caroline Quentin was Renwick's first choice for Maddie Magellan, but the casting of Creek proved something of a problem. Renwick had wanted Nicholas Lyndhurst, but he turned it down. Rik Mayall was also offered the part but was, at the time, busy with stage work (he would later guest-star in a Christmas Special of the series). Hugh Laurie showed a great deal of interest and agreed to take the part, but later turned it down as he could not figure out Creek's motivations for investigating the cases Maddie involves him in, especially when he shows so much reluctance in some of the episodes."The World of Jonathan Creek" by Steve Clark, BBC Worldwide Ltd]

Others who were tried for the part included Nigel Planer and Angus Deayton, both very popular at the time, but lacking a certain something that identified them as Creek. Almost a dozen actors were considered before producer Susan Belbin saw Alan Davies during a rehearsal for a sitcom. Davies was invited round to talk to Renwick and "turned up in his duffle coat with straggly hair and a broad grin [and] was self-evidently the closest match yet to Creek as we had always seen him"."The World of Jonathan Creek" by Steve Clark, BBC Worldwide Ltd]

Cast

Main cast

*Alan Davies - Jonathan Creek
*Caroline Quentin - Maddie Magellan "(series 1 to 3)"
*Anthony Head - Adam Klaus "(series 1 - pilot)"
*Stuart Milligan - Adam Klaus "(from series 1, episode 2 onwards)"
*Julia Sawalha - Carla Borrego "(2001 Special and series 4)"
*Adrian Edmondson - Brendan Baxter "(series 4)"

Guest cast

Many well-known actors have appeared in the series including three who are better known for comedy playing straight roles, Bob Monkhouse, Rik Mayall (who had been considered to play Jonathan) and Jack Dee.Other guest stars, both comedy and straight, have included: Steven Berkoff, Geoffrey McGivern, John Bluthal, Kate Isitt, Sanjeev Bhaskar,Nigel Planer, Griff Rhys Jones, Hattie Hayridge, Alistair McGowan, Tamsin Greig, Colin Baker, Brian Murphy, Mary Tamm, Jim Bowen, Peter Davison, Maureen O'Brien, Lysette Anthony, Mark Caven, Lorelei King, Geoffrey Beevers, Annette Crosbie, Maureen Lipman, Paul Blackthorne, Jimmi Harkishin, and Bill Bailey (who was also pencilled as the original Jonathan Creek).

Jonathan Ross, Michael Grade and Bamber Gascoigne have all appeared as themselves.

See also: List of Jonathan Creek cast members

Plot

The series follows the exploits of Jonathan Creek, a designer of illusions for a stage magician, and — in the first three series — Maddie Magellan, a pushy journalist, as they work together to solve crimes where others have failed.

Creek contributes his lateral thinking, and Magellan is a plausible liar who never seems to have trouble sneaking in to closed crime scenes. The programme usually features 'impossible crimes', for example an offence having been committed in a sealed environment from which no criminal could have escaped (a "locked room mystery"). Several episodes deal with paranormal thefts and murders, which Creek solves using his knowledge of misdirection and illusion, giving the character a passing resemblance to stage magician turned paranormal investigator James Randi. No matter how fantastic the crime appears to be at first, Creek finds a rational explanation.

Creek's employer is the amoral and ambitious Adam Klaus, a flamboyant performer with a sinister stage persona who is really a drug-addled, comically insensitive womaniser. In some instances, his magic tricks go comically wrong. The character appears on camera infrequently, his shenanigans usually revealed to or by Jonathan in conversation with other characters. Sub-plots in the episodes revolve around the problems that Adam gets himself into and how Jonathan has to get him out of them, such as when Adam was blackmailed by a barmaid after spending the night with her, or when he was forced to hire a midget as a bodyguard in order to appear more politically correct. Some aspects of the character were inspired by Ali BongoFact|date=September 2008.

As the series progressed, Creek gradually changed from an antisocial anorak to a man with a great deal of wit and charm. This helped to fuel the romantic thread between him and Maddie. Jonathan's trademark duffle coat was actually Alan Davies' own coat that he wore to the auditions; it helped him win the role, as the writer and producers thought it suited the character. For the 2001 Christmas special and thereafter, Caroline Quentin declined to appear, and so a second supporting role was introduced, theatrical agent Carla Borrego, played by Julia Sawalha. After her first appearance, the character married TV producer Brendan Baxter (Adrian Edmondson), and she became a TV presenter.

Part of the humour comes from the fact that Jonathan often doesn't want to get involved in other people's problems, and has to be pressured into it by Maddie or Carla. In "The Scented Room", which centred around a theft from a critic who had lambasted Adam's act, he took great delight in announcing he had solved the crime but wasn't going to tell anybody how it was done. Initially Jonathan was only brought in to investigate because he was asked by Maddie due to her having a connection to the crime, or because it involved an old friend of his. As time went on, he acquired a more significant reputation and was independently recruited by such varied contacts as a chief of police or the United States military.

Toward the end of the show's run the tone became noticeably darker, with Jonathan investigating gangsters, drug dealers, white slave traders, psychopathic serial killers and violent pimps as opposed to the more whimsical (if no less murderous) characters with whom he crossed wits in earlier episodes. The tone of the show also became more adult, with coarser language and even on one occasion full-frontal male nudity (in the form of a streaker) creeping into the show by series four.

Episodes

The 2003 and 2004 series were made up of three episodes each but were released on DVD as a single six-episode series.

eries 1 (1997)

eries 3 (1999-2000)

eries 4 - Part 2 (2004)

Christmas Special (2008)

A 90-minute 2008 Christmas special is planned. News of the comeback was reported in the Daily Mirror on 31 May, reporting that David Renwick, who wrote all of the previous episodes, had returned and that filming would commence shortly, stating "After a five year break I think we're all looking forward to getting Creek back on the screen". Renwick is also directing the episode. [cite web|last= West|first= Dave|title= 'Jonathan Creek' revived for Xmas special|publisher= Digital Spy|date= 2008-06-01|url= http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/a97137/jonathan-creek-revived-for-xmas-special.html|accessdate= 2008-06-01] [cite web|last= Renwick|first= David|authorlink= David Renwick|title= New Christmas special of Jonathan Creek planned|publisher= JonathanCreek.net|url= http://www.jonathancreek.net/noticeboard.asp|accessdate= 2008-04-06] The BBC Press Office has since confirmed that the special will guest star Sheridan Smith as Joey Ross and Stuart Milligan will reprise his role as the magician Adam Klaus. [cite web | publisher = BBC Press Office | date = 2008-04-06 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2008/06_june/03/jonathan_creek.shtml | title = Jonathan Creek returns to BBC One | accessdate = 2008-04-06 ] The new Christmas special is called "The Grinning Man" and started filming at the end of June 2008. [cite web | publisher = BBC Press Release | date = 2008-06-30 | url =http://www.jonathancreek.net/noticeboard.asp | title = Sheridan Smith to be new Creek girl | accessdate = 2008-06-30 ]

Music

The distinctive theme tune is an arrangement of Camille Saint-Saëns' "Danse Macabre" by Julian Stewart Lindsay, who also wrote the underscore for the first three series and the two specials.

Other versions

There were two attempts to make a U.S. version of "Jonathan Creek". The first involved Castle Rock, the production company behind series such as "Seinfeld", but the initial scripts were not felt good enough, and David Renwick's scripts were rejected by CBS. The second attempt, also by Renwick, was for Whoopi Goldberg and would have included Alan Davies.

DVD releases

Regions 2 (UK) and 4 (AUS)

Series One was released in Region 1 (US/Canada) in December 2006.Series Two was quietly released in Region 1 in late 2007.

References

External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/jonathancreek/ "Jonathan Creek"] at BBC Cult
* [http://www.jonathancreek.net/ "Jonathan Creek homepage"]
* [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/series/28098 "Jonathan Creek"] at the British Film Institute
*Screenonline TV title|id=991910|title=Jonathan Creek
*imdb title|id=0118363|title=Jonathan Creek


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