The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency--bright, colorful, feel-good
This show makes television fun again
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is a bold, bright, colorful HBO series my sweetheart and I just could not get enough of. The only thing we didn't like about this series: It ended way too soon. Here are all the things we loved about it.
If you enjoy detective stories and are tired of the same old blood, guts, chase scenes and violence we're fed day in and day out on U.S. and British television, you just might enjoy this brief one-season interlude with a fascinating crew, absorbing tales and gorgeous location.
We sure did. In fact, we recently watched the series a second time. This one's definitely a keeper.
The stories intrigue and entertain without resorting to gore, violence and obligatory chase scenes
Yes, bad stuff happens to people, sometimes really bad stuff, but newly minted private investigator Precious Ramotswe is up to the task.
With common sense, good humor, physical and mental strength, she finds lost souls, heals wounds, and wounds heels where it counts the most.
The first of two seasons is available here on DVD
How i would love to have Precious Ramotswe's wardrobe
Precious wears traditional dresses in bold, bright colors and patterns. Her dresses grace her large body in flares and folds that accentuate her pear-shaped physique and make her round curves all the more voluptuous.
Designer Jo Katsaras traveled to Africa where the fabrics and colors inspired her to design authentic costumes. The New York Times, in its series, "The Emmys | The Clothes Make the Show," gives us a glimpse here: Jo Katsaras: "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency".
The main character is a woman of size in body as well as brains
Precious, played by American actress Jill Scott, who is also a Grammy award winner, is no skinny-minnie blonde who needs a male cohort to save her behind when the going gets tough.
Wearing fantastically bold and beautiful dresses and headdresses made of African shwe shwe cotton, Precious flaunts her "traditional shape," as confident in her beauty as in her strength. Plus-size rules!
Not only is Precious a real woman of substance, she is funny, with an ever positive outlook on life and human nature, witty when she needs to be, savvy and wise all of the time.
Learn more about the supporting characters
- BBC - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Characters & Cast
Short vignettes of each of the characters and the actors who play them
The supporting characters are just quirky enough to exasperate and endear
From the diminutive, kind, and immediately smitten garage owner who tows Precious's car through the lonely desert night, to the prim, proud, petticoat-clad secretary for whom so much is starkly black and white, to the flamboyantly gay hairdresser next door, little bits of their lives, woven seamlessly into the stories, keep us watching for the next tidbit that helps us understand and love them that much more.
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was filmed on location in Botswana, bringing the first film crew ever to this tiny, troubled country
Filmed on location, despite all the odds
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is filmed on location, where the sun seems nearly always to shine, but where few film crews have dared to turn on the lights.
For an armchair traveler like me, it is sheer delight to see the sets and the countryside of a land I have little hope ever to visit.
What is most striking, apart from the seemingly unrelenting sunshine and heat, are the bright colors. Every landscape, house, wall and fabric shouts with vibrant, soul-stirring color.
Equally delicious, the music. Everywhere is music, from the a capella notes of African singers at the funeral of Precious's father, to the haunting saxophone of her abusive ex-husband, to the lilting cadence of South African English. All is as delightful to the ear as to the eye.
For an insider's look at the actors, the sets and how the location made it into the film, read David Gritten's account in The Telegraph, On Set Report: No1 Ladies' Detective Agency.
The filmmakers address important social issues of our time
Domestic violence, AIDS, child abuse, drug trafficking--the filmmakers touch on these and more just heavily enough and lightly enough to inform us without ever losing sight of the fact their primary objective is to entertain. That takes amazing skill.
Touching on a such heavy issues, while transcending borders, literally and figuratively, the stories raise our awareness and understanding without any of that self-conscious inclusion one sometimes feels when painful issues are brought to a story.
Each episode quickly captures and holds our attention
My sweetheart and I sigh audibly when we realize we've come to the end of an episode.
Thank heavens for fast-forward buttons. We're soon past the credits and queuing up for the next tale. If only they had filmed more seasons!
Watch the trailer
Take a couple of minutes to watch the trailer for The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, meet the characters, and see what you think.
Download the Kindle version and read the first in this series right now!
Compare the books to the television series
This is the first of fifteen (so far) books in Alexander McCall Smith's series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. It reads as smoothly as Precious Ramotswe talks, but I'd like to hear how you think it compares to the TV series.
For years, I passed these books by on bookshelves in bookstores, thinking a white man could not possibly write about Africa or a woman detective with any deep knowledge. Boy was I mistaken.
Born in Rhodesia, before it became Zimbabwe, Smith's portrayal of modern-day African life rings true because he has lived it. How he writes with such feminine sensibility, I do not know, but he captures the heart of Precious Ramotswe so beautifully that we all fall in love with her, right along with him.
I've watched the television series twice now, and I'm sure after another year or two, I'll want to see it again. Sheer, enjoyable entertainment, that. Before I get back to it a third time, though, I intend to read all the books in the series. What about you? Have you seen the series or read the books?
Watch for the 2nd season on DVD!
In 2009, the BBC aired a second season of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which is every bit as vibrant as the first. Available on Netflix now, I'll post a link to the DVD here when it becomes available.
More articles about the making of the series
- Move over Miss Marple... Jill Scott is back as Mma Ramotswe in new series of The No.1 Ladies' Detec
Jill Scott returns to the BBC as Mma Ramotswe in a new six-part TV series of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency following the successful one-off show last year.
- No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Jill Scott's compromised crossover appeal
If we lived in a just world, Jill Scott would be a superstar. She's got presence, people. It was obvious to me she was a star when I saw the music video for "A Long Walk". It was probably obvious to her friends who encouraged her to pursue acting in
- HBO: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: Homepage
The official website for The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency on HBO, featuring videos, images, schedule information and episode guides.
© 2014 Kathryn Grace