Exploring the darker side of one of London’s richest boroughs, Acorn TV’s The Chelsea Detective is now available on Home Entertainment. Starring Adrian Scarborough (Blunt Talk, Killing Eve) as DI Max Arnold, a brilliant yet mildly quirky detective who lives on a houseboat just a stone’s throw away from some of the most affluent people in the area. Max has only recently moved onto the houseboat as a result of his ongoing messy divorce. To make matters worse, his elderly father passed away, and all Max has to offer distraction from the harsh realities of his life is solving murders in his beloved corner of London.
Aided by his partner DS Priya Shamsie (Sonita Henry), who is recently back to work after ending her maternity leave early, the duo investigate four gritty and often baffling cases. Created by Peter Fincham (Green Wing, Clarkson’s Farm), The four 90-minute episodes are elegantly put together, from its impressive two leads to its strong supporting cast, all peppered with some remarkable shots of Chelsea.
As tradition dictates in a police procedural, the lead detective is a slightly eccentric detective; he’s riddled with personal struggles, a soon-to-be ex-wife he’d hoped to reconcile with, and a recently deceased father. Thankfully, Arnold enjoys daily bike rides more than drowning his sorrows in a bottle. The series gets off to a strong start with the first episode, The Wages of Sin, Arnold and Sahmsie investigate the apparent suicide of a man at a train station. However, it soon becomes clear that much more is happening than meets the eye, and the man was pushed onto the tracks. Occasionally delving into a tad too much melodrama with Arnold’s ex-wife, the show gets extra marks for finally giving perpetual supporting actor Adrian Scarborough a leading role; he might always be Mr. Jolly from Psychoville to me, but it’s great to see him get the spotlight.
While it might not offer an innovative spin on the police procedural, The Chelsea Detective offers a laidback and comfortable approach to the frequently action-packed genre. Thanks to the likes of Spooks, Line of Duty, Sherlock, and countless other movies and TV shows, we’re no strangers to seeing London as the backdrop for spectacular set pieces, so it’s pretty refreshing to see a series highlight the ugly side as much as the beautiful.
The Chelsea Detective has been quite the hit with audiences; the second series concludes on Acorn TV on September 18th.