Every man at the bottom of his heart believes that he is a born detective.

JOHN BUCHAN (1875-1940)

Fictional Detectives

The Three Apples


The first known detective story was 'The Three Apples' in 1001 Arabian Nights. A man has to solve a murder in three days or he will be executed. It turns out that he can't solve it, but the murderer turns up at the last minute to stop the execution.

Sherringford Hope


Sherlock Holmes was originally named Sherringford Hope, Watson was called Ormond Sacker. It is thought that Sherlock Holmes' surname was taken from Oliver Wendell Holmes, whose book on criminal psychology had just been published, and Sherlock came from Conan Doyle's favourite musician, the violinist Alfred Sherlock.

Famously, Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to kill off his most famous creation and had Holmes and Moriarty wrestle each other off a cliff at the foot of the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Conan Doyle had to resurrect him after a deluge of protest flowed through his letterbox and a woman picketed his home with a sign that read 'murderer'.

Sherlock Holmes was indirectly influenced by a real-life detective, Eugene Vidocq. Criminal-turned-law-maker Eugène François Vidocq introduced record keeping, criminalistics, the science of ballistics into police work; was the first to make plaster-of-Paris casts of foot/shoe impressions; and founded the first modern detective agency. 

SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE (1859-1930)

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

Diagnosis: Murder


Diagnosis: Murder is a daytime murder-mystery drama starring Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes with the help of his son, played by his real-life son, Barry. In fact, eight members of the Van Dyke family have played some part in the show.
 
Each case is more unbelievable than the last. They encounter terrorism, espionage, deadly viruses, alien children, spiritualism, magic, gangsters, earthquakes, and forest fires. 

Van Dyke is a keen computer geek. In one episode, the production company had a problem with a motorbike crash that looked, frankly, a bit wet. So Dick 'pepped it up' with some CGI flameyness... making him perhaps the first person to be credited as lead actor, exec producer and Visual SFX on the same networked TV show.
 
 

Quincy M.E.


Quincy M.E. is a show about a coroner who investigates suspicious deaths that usually suggest murder. It ran from 1976 to 1983 and starred Jack Klugman. Inspecting dead people, Quincy and his assistant Sam often see facts that don't match the police's theories of how or if really they were murdered.
 
It was based on the real-life Los Angeles County Medical Examiner Dr Thomas Noguchi, who became famous for his often controversial conclusions.  Noguchi performed autopsies on Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood and John Belushi. He also acted as a technical advisor on the show.
 
 

ELVIS COSTELLO

She is watching the detectives
when they shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot.

JESSICA FLETCHER (Murder She Wrote)

Just because the Almighty gave people a taste for lobsters doesn't mean he gave the lobsters a taste for being boiled alive.

Murder She Wrote


Murder She Wrote stars twice-Oscar-nominated Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. Jean Stapleton and Doris Day both turned down the part before Lansbury took the role. The show's title is a reference to the Miss Marple mystery 'Murder, She Said'.
 
It was the longest running television mystery series',  1984 to 1996, after which it still managed to produce several 'made-for-TV' movies.
 
There were 286 murders featured in the TV series, though in one episode, 'The Petrified Florist', it all turns out to have been a dream, and in another, 'A Christmas Secret', the intended murder victim doesn't die. 

Murder She Wrote maintained extremely high ratings finishing in the top 15 of shows for eleven of its twelve seasons, even well into its late seasons. At the beginning of its twelfth season in 1995, CBS moved the show from its extremely popular Sunday night slot to Thursday night forcing it to compete with NBC's Friends, and as a result the ratings plummeted. The title of the last ever episode, 'Death by Demographics' was a not very subtle stab at the programmers at CBS.
 

Raymond Burr


Ironside was a detective show starring Raymond Burr as wheelchair-bound Chief of Detectives, Robert T. Ironside. Ironside had been hit by a wayward assassin's bullet and decided to retire to a vineyard but his old friend, Ed Brown who now worked for the Denver Police asked him to fill in the vacated position of Chief due to the murder of the previous Chief.
 
Because he was sat down the whole time, Burr injured his eyes working on the series. Looking upwards into the lights, his retinas got burned.

Perry Mason, the attorney who specializes in defending seemingly indefensible cases, ran from 1957 to 1966. It also starred Raymond Burr who originally auditioned for the role of another character called Hamilton Burger. The show was based on the books by Erle Stanley Gardner who appeared in the final episode, 'The Case of the Final Fade Out'.
 
Burr was once accosted in public by a woman who demanded to know: 'How come you never lose?' To which Burr dead-panned: 'Madam, you only see the cases that I try on Saturdays'.
 
Perry always lacked the vital bit of evidence until the very end, when the private investigator he used would come into court with it just as Mason was cross-examining the person who turned out to be the culprit. 'The Perry Mason effect' became a slang phrase based on the attorney's trademark ability to clear his client by coercing the guilty party into confessing on the witness stand. Many prosecutors complained that juries were hesitant to convict defendants without that 'Perry Mason moment'.

Chinese fans of Sherlock call Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman 'Curly Fu' and 'Peanut'.

In 2002, Sherlock Holmes was inducted into the Royal Society of Chemistry as an honorary fellow for being one of the first to use chemistry in forensics.

Dignosis: Murder often hosts guest stars including, in one episode, the entire cast of M*A*S*H.

David Suchet has acted as Inspector Poirot for more than 100 hours over 25 years.

Arthur Conan Doyle was one the men responsible for founding Portsmouth Football Club in 1884, and was their first goalkeeper.

When asked, TV Detective Columbo, always gives his first name as ‘Lieutenant’.

Perhaps the first modern detective story was 'The Murders In The Rue Morgue', Edgar Allen Poe. The murderer was an orangutan.

Angela Lansbury was nominated for an Emmy for each of Murder She Wrote's twelve seasons. She never won.