Cape Town – In case you didn’t know there is a new detective duo on television.
Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators on BBC First (DStv 119) sees ex-policeman turned PI Frank Hathaway (Mark Benton) and his ex-hairdresser rookie sidekick Luella Shakespeare (Jo Joyner) form the most unlikely partnership as they investigate crimes in small town Warwickshire.
See a promo here:
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For Jo, who is best known for her role in the BBC soap EastEnders, what attracted her most to the series is that the character was positive and uplifting, she told Channel24 in a telephone interview.
“I always do heavy drama and it was nice to do something warmer and friendly.”’
In addition to the character the opportunity to work close to her home was also a plus.
“I live very near Stratford-upon-Avon and grew up in Warwickshire. So that was one of the things that attracted me because I usually have to work in London or Manchester. I heard how beautiful the countryside and the buildings are here so the chance to make a show to reflect some of my home was really lovely,” says Jo.
Speaking about working with Mark Benton, Jo says they worked together a long time ago on a show The Second Coming.
“We worked together briefly I was new and Mark had been at it for a while. I was nervous and he was very kind and supportive, so I had a good memory of him.”
She continues: “I knew that he was a very generous actor. On our first day of filming we got on very quickly. We found out how the other works and we were bouncing things off each other. He has funny bones and I had done some comedy and I knew we would work well together.”
With Frank being an ex-policeman and Luella an ex-hairdresser they are quite an unlikely pairing.
“That’s what makes it such good fun,” says Jo.
She explains further: “They are complete opposites. Frank is serious, droll and a pessimist. Luella is bright, bubbly, friendly and instinctive. It works very well as a good yin and yang - it creates a great dynamic. She annoys him, he gets fed up, she sees it as a challenge. By the end of the series there is a real fondness despite Luella forcing her herself on Frank and his world.”
In real life Jo doesn’t have much in common with Luella, she does admit that she is quite nosy but doesn’t dress in floral or do her hair as well.
While Jo says she would be interested in amateur sleuthing she doesn’t think she’ll be very good at it.
“When we get the script I can never guess how the case would end. I am always surprised at the outcome,” she adds.
WHAT MAKES THE SERIES DIFFERENT?
With so many detective series on television what makes Shakespeare & Hathaway different is that there is a fine mixture.
“We have a lot of dark prime-time dramas where children get kidnapped and murdered and it can get people down.
“I think what appeals to people is that we might have a serious story but amongst it we focus on how Patrick [Sebastian Brudenella], Frank and Luella work together and how they solve the cases. They don’t always get it right and I think that is what makes it different, it lightens things up.”
Speaking about what types of cases viewers can expect to see on the show Jo says they are not all murder cases.
“It is really varied and we shoot in different locations. We also have amazing guests lined up some fabulous theatre actors who have given of their time. Some cases take place in a care home, even a kitchen and there is also a love story. The last episode, which is my favourite, is a midsummer’s ball on a beautiful estate – it is a lovely story.”
And who is Jo’s favourite detective duo of all time?
“Starsky & Hutch. It was my favourite when I was young and – I loved the film too when it came out. A show needs that yin and yang - different personalities lead to conflict and humour which is great.”
Catch Shakespeare & Hathaway Fridays at 20:00 on BBC First (DStv 119).
(Photos supplied: BBC)