On her 60th birthday housewife Hetty Wainthropp (Patricia Routledge) decides it's time to do something with her life. A forceful character & naturally inquisitive, she has a certain flair for investigative work, so recruits an unlikely partner in Geoffrey Shawcross (Dominic Monaghan), a runaway teenager whom she has rescued from a life of shop-lifting. With an old head on young shoulders, the Wainthropp Detective Agency is open for business...
Hetty's normal appearance, strong sense of justice, kindly disposition and skill at blending into her surroundings bring her into contact with people from all sections of the community. So far Hetty has led a rather sheltered life, but her initial naïvety is outweighed by her commonsense and shrewdness, and streetwise Geoffrey (her new lodger-cum-sidekick) is there to warn her of potential hazards. To begin with money is tight and cases few and far between, but soon Hetty establishes a reputation for getting results even Detective Chief Inspector Adams (John Graham Davies) begins to treat her with respect.
Every private eye has a trademark and Hetty has two: an unending supply of berets and a scooter (Geoffrey driving,
Hetty on the back).
Set and filmed on location in the North West of England, with its rundown post-industrialist towns and magnificent countryside, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates is a charming mix of suspense and gentle comedy with a redoubtable and very
1. The Bearded Lady
Hetty wakes up to her 60th birthday and decides retirement is not for her,"I'm going to make myself count." She gets a job in a local sub-post office, where she becomes suspicious of a young couple,Wayne and Sandy, who are claiming cash on behalf of a pensioner. Enlisting the aid of Geoffrey Shawcross, a 16-year-old whom she catches shop-lifting, Hetty determines to investigate. Geoffrey follows them to a derelict mill, where he discovers the body of Mary, a bag lady.Wayne and Sandy deny killing Mary but admit to using her pension book for cash. Hetty is shocked, but she has
decided she has a knack for investigation. She sets up as a private eye and the story appears in the local newspaper. But why does her first client, Mr Harkness, send her on a wild-goose chase to a derelict cottage in the middle of nowhere? What on earth is a computer disk doing in the bag lady's possessions? And is there any connection between her death and the death of her old neighbour, Professor Fisher, burnt to death in a fire at Lake Windermere?
Hetty is called on by a pair of worried parents whose deaf-mute son, Malcolm, has disappeared while out bird-watching. To make matters worse, a woman is found dead at the bottom of a cliff which Malcolm is known to frequent. Is foul play at hand? Malcolm, as it turns out, is on the run because he witnessed a murder.The murderer turns out to be one Sergeant Lennox, a rogue policeman now bent on finding Malcolm and keeping him quiet for good. Hetty and Geoff's search proves more difficult than expected, especially after Lennox is assigned to work with Hetty on the case.
A severed finger and a photo of their son, Gianni, has been sent by post to Guido and Elena, proprietors of a Tuscan albergo. Convinced he has been kidnapped by the Mafia, their daughter Gianetta hires Hetty while she and Robert are on holiday. Back in England, Gianni's flatmate Ernesto tells Hetty that he has disappeared. After Hetty has gone Gianni emerges from hiding and is later assaulted by two men in the street. In a betting shop Hetty discovers that Gianni had been losing money. A loan shark admits lending to Gianni, but insists a foreign man has cleared his debt. Then Gianni is found, dead and mutilated...
A letter informs Robert that his uncle Albert, 76, has been found hanged at his home in Readsby, a village 30 miles away. Albert, a professional footballer, had been his childhood hero and he now wants Hetty to investigate his death. But Hetty doesn't believe it was suicide. For one thing, where's the suicide note? And when she begins to suspect that the villagers of Readsby once a notorious haven for witches are still engaged in satanic practices, she's determined to prove that they were somehow involved.
5. High Profile
Michael, a highly educated schizophrenic living by himself, has been missing for 12 days. His mother, Hilda, tells Hetty that she is anxious for his safety but that her husband, Reg, refuses to have his step-son in the house. Hetty sets out for Michael's last-known address and finds Ian, Michael's community nurse, who suspects that Michael is probably not taking his medication. He also warns her that Michael may be contemplating suicide. The only clue Hetty has to go on is a librarian, Aileen, who seems to have been friendly with Michael. Her letters to him quote from his poems about a skeleton and dying animals. Meanwhile, Michael is in the seaside town of Staverton Sands, reliving his childhood. Irene, the landlady of the private Sunnysands Hotel, tries unsuccessfully to get the police to arrest him for loitering
outside. He is hearing voices in his head and getting into trouble. Can Hetty and Geoff find him before it is too late?
6. Safe As Houses
Mrs Baynes, an old friend of Hetty's asks her help in locating her troubled foster daughter, Chrissie. It sems Chrissie's disappearance may be connected with a series of arson attacks on local homes. Chrissie has a history of setting fires. But the owners of the burnt houses all have apartments in the same tower block in Tenerife, a connection that has nothing to do with Chrissie. As Hetty and Geoffrey search for Chrissie and the truth, evidence starts to point towards Stanley, a local butcher. But it takes the winning photograph in a newspaper competition to give Hetty the evidence she needs, which in turn provides the newspaper with its next story and Hetty with a reward for capturing the arsonist and much-needed publicity for her agency.