An “innovative and genre busting” new show is coming to the BBC. They have just announced Armchair Detectives which combines a murder mystery drama with a gameshow. It will transport three players and viewers at home to the fictional town of Mortcliff where a dastardly crime has been committed. Their task - to discover whodunnit?
The show is a play along and immersive investigation that can be enjoyed every step of the way. Like any good quiz, crime is crammed with titillating reveals, but as the drama unfolds, more suspects and clues will come to light. With their critical thinking put to the test will players and viewers be able to identify the killer?
Sounds fun! But it also sounds very familiar. Back in the Seventies, ITV ran a panel show Whodunnit? written and produced by Joanna Lumley’s one time husband Jeremy “Captain Beaky” Lloyd and calypso-playing satirist Lance Percival.
The 1972 pilot was presented by Shaw Taylor, best known for Police 5, a snappy bulletin that pioneered the Crimewatch style shows that would follow. When it began in earnest the following year, Shaw was replaced by Edward “Equalizer” Woodward not long out of Callan (who wouldn’t have been doing his job properly if anyone could tell whodunnit).
Woodward handed the chair to former Time Lord Jon Pertwee in 1974 and he chaired proceedings until 1978. There was also an American version in 1979.
Each episode had a short melodramatic murder mystery and the drama would cede to a celebrity panel who would then be tasked with deciding the guilty culprit. The final season broke out of the studio to go on location and explore supposed crime scenes.
So I’m not sure how innovative Armchair Detectives will be - unless the contestants did it but the Beeb have had enough confidence to order twenty 45-minutes episodes from Tiger Aspect.