TV Today is very happy at the news that sleuthing magician’s assistant Jonathan Creek is back for a one-off Christmas special as Alan Davies returns to his most successful role. There was some worry that the notion of a revival for Jonathan Creek was just based on an off the cuff comment from writer David Renwick that was picked up by the papers in a slow news week.
Thankfully not, and the BBC Press Office has confirmed the special episode, although it doesn’t indicate if the transmission is for Christmas, with a very non-committal “later this year” appearing in the press release.
While the final series of Jonathan Creek was, to be fair, not much cop, there’s still plenty of mileage left in the format, with Davies’s Creek still playing illusion designer to the irrepressible Adam Klaus, once again played by the brilliant Stuart Milligan. And it seems Jonathan, like James Bond, will have a new girl for a new adventure as Sheridan Smith arrives as the “fiercely sceptical” Joey Ross.
Sheridan Smith, a David Renwick regular from Love Soup, is perfect for the tone of Jonathan Creek, following in the footsteps of Caroline Quentin’s Maddie Magellan and Julia Sawalha’s Carla Borrego. I didn’t particularly gel with Carla, possibly down to the fact that I didn’t particularly gel with the final episodes. I missed Maddie too much, but I can see Smith playing more effectively against Davies’s uncomfortable Jonathan.
Having loved the second series of* Love Soup* recently, and always having enjoyed Renwick’s previous masterwork, One Foot in the Grave, it’s interesting to draw parallels to the writer’s protagonists. While all unique in themselves, Victor Meldrew (Richard Wilson), Alice Chenery (Tamsin Greig) and Creek don’t quite fit into the world around them, always struggling, never quite understanding. While Victor always shouted his frustration at the world, Jonathan and Alice have a quieter reaction, a more puzzled, whimsically emotional response. It may be deliberate, it may not, but I sometimes like seeing patterns in things that aren’t there.
This feeling of not quite belonging is perhaps why Jonathan Creek remains Alan Davies’s most successful and satisfying character to date. The virtue of the character is that he doesn’t belong, living in a self-created world of illusions and magic. When he came to the role, Davies himself was not an actor - arguably, he isn’t really now. Davies’s own on-screen discomfort with the process of making a TV show is what, ultimately makes the character attractive and lovable. Certainly one can’t imagine Nicholas Lyndhurst, reportedly a first choice for the role, being half as successful. To be fair to Davies, he was almost as good in Bob and Rose, but it’s best if we don’t go near The Brief on the grounds of decency.
Basically what this rambling character dissection and appreciation of the works of David Renwick is getting at is: I am very, very happy to see the return of Jonathan Creek to our TV screens “later this year”. Whenever that may be…