Lord Peter Wimsey

1972 | United Kingdom

The adventures of an aristocratic amateur sleuth created by clergyman's daughter Dorothy L. Sayers and first published in 1923 were bought to life as a period piece drama in 1972 by BBC television. Playing the lead role was Ian Carmichael who had previously had a long run as an aristocratic type in the hugely successful P.G. Wodehouse's The World of Wooster. But apart from having a manservant and wearing a monocle that was where the similarities between the two characters ended, for whereas Bertie Wooster was a bumbling nincompoop, Lord Peter Wimsey was anything but-and his sometime outward appearance as an upper-class twit was usually only employed in order to outwit his adversaries.

Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893 - 1957) married the journalist O.A. Fleming in 1926 and worked as a copywriter in an advertising agency until the success of her detective novels gave her financial independence. Lord Peter Wimsey's first appeared in print in the novel "Whose Body?" published in 1923, and marked out Sayers' distinctive style for well-researched backgrounds, observant characterization, and ingenious plotting. 

Wimsey began his fictional life in 1890, was educated at Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford, and served in World War I where he ended up with a bad case of shell shock, causing him occasional problems throughout his stories. His elder brother, Gerald, inherited the title Duke of Denver from their father, and their sister Lady Mary married Peter's friend, police detective Charles Parker, after they met when her fiance was murdered in the second Wimsey novel, "Clouds of Witness." His manservant, Bunter, whom Wimsey met when they served together in the war, accompanied him throughout the TV series, although he was played at various times by Glyn Houston and Derek Newark. Mark Eden appeared as DCI Charles Parker. The first episode shown on TV was based on the second novel and four other of the original stories were adapted for the small screen ("The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club", "The Five Red Herrings", "Murder Must Advertise" and "The Nine Tailors."

Wimsey later returned for three more TV adventures, this time played by Edward Petherbridge with Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane, the girl that Wimsey married in the 1935 novel "Gaudy Night". Three further stories were told in 1987 under the title A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery. Sayers wrote eleven Wimsey novels in total plus a number of short stories. In 1998 Jill Paton Walsh completed an unfinished novel prior to publication, and in 2002 Walsh also wrote "A Presumption of Death," loosely based on The Wimsey Papers

Published on December 31st, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.