Acorn TV Filming P.D. James Dalgliesh Adaptation

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Great news for mystery fans – Acorn TV and Channel 5 have just commissioned a new detective drama based on P.D. James' Inspector Dalgliesh series. Bertie Carvel (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Doctor Foster, Agatha Christie's The Pale Horse, The Sister) is slated to play the iconic New Scotland Yard detective.

What's it About?

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The series is based on the successful Inspector Dalgliesh novels by Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park – otherwise known as P.D. James. Beginning in the 1960s, she crafted a series about an intensely private, poetry-writing detective at New Scotland Yard in London. He lives in a flat above the Thames, drives a Cooper Bristol (later, a Jaguar) and is often described as tall, dark, and handsome.

Dalgliesh is a widower, with no more than a late aunt to call family. If you like Inspector Morse, there's a pretty good chance you'll like Dalgliesh – though of course, we can't be sure how much will be changed for this upcoming adaptation.

Of his new role, Bertie Carvel has said:

There’s no mention of his poetry. We don’t get to know what kind of a poet he is. Someone sort of says he’s a poet. What I love about that is that it hints at a kind of hinterland. In other words, these people have lives away from the screen, and then it’s up to me to go and figure out what his poetry might be and to dig a little deeper as to why maybe we don’t get to, in our series, why don’t we get to see that side of his life. In fact, I think his pen has been dry since the death of his wife which, again, happens off-screen. So there’s a whole kind of story… that in P.D. James’ novels she doesn’t knit together for you.

While the books begin in the 1960s, it's been announced that the new series will start in mid-1970s England, and will consist of three two-part films (each 2 episodes of 60 minutes). It's said that the series is told from the perspective of Dalgliesh, and it follows his career to the present day.

Helen Edmundson (Mary Magdalene) is lead writer for the project, and Jill Robertson (Grantchester) will direct. The series will be produced by Georgie Fallon (Mum) and executive produced by Elaine Pyke of New Pictures.

Which Books Will be Adapted for Dalgliesh?

As with previous adaptations, it looks like the new series will follow a different order from the original novels – though it's hard to say what that will do to all the lovely backstory and character details.

  • Shroud for a Nightingale – When one of the nursing students at Nightingale House is brutally murdered, Dalgliesh must find the killer.
  • The Black Tower – Set on the coast of Dorset, this one follows an investigation into a strange home for the disabled where things might not be as they appear.
  • A Taste for Death – At St. Matthew's Church Paddington, two men lie in a pool of blood – one, a Minister of the Crown, the other a homeless pensioner.

Read the Inspector Dalgliesh Novels

If you've never read P.D. James' novels, they're definitely worth a read (because frankly, no matter HOW good the adaptation, the books are nearly always longer, richer, and closer to the author's original vision for the work). 

Below, we've included the books in order + links to get them on either Amazon or Bookshop.org. On Amazon, you can select from the various available formats, while Bookshop focuses more on print editions (and they donate money to independent bookshops, which is especially important right now when foot traffic is down). 

 

Where Can I Watch the Old Dalgliesh Adaptations?

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Martin Shaw as Dalgliesh in Death in Holy Orders

All the Dalgliesh novels have been previously adapted for screen, but they aren't wildly faithful adaptations because they were done out of order and that meant heavy adjustments to the backstory. 

Starting in the 1980s, Roy Marsden played the detective in a series of adaptations of the first 10 novels for Anglia Television. In 2003, the BBC took over and Martin Shaw filled the Dalgliesh role for adaptations of Death in Holy Orders and The Murder Room.

Sadly, we're not aware of any legal streaming services offering these adaptations right now (though it never hurts to put in requests with your favourite streaming services). Our best recommendation is to check your local library for DVDs or get them online. 

You may also have luck checking eBay HERE. Prices can vary quite a bit based on when you look.

When Does the New Dalgliesh Series Premiere?

Dalgliesh is now in production, and while an exact premiere date hasn't been announced, Acorn TV has announced that it will premiere sometime in November 2021. 

Dalgliesh will have its world premiere exclusively on Acorn TV in North America, New Zealand, and Australia. In the UK, it will broadcast on Channel 5. All3media International will handle distribution elsewhere.

Will You Be Tuning in for Dalgliesh?

As huge fans of classic mysteries, we'll definitely be watching this one. Will you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

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19 Comments

  1. I loved the books. However, and this is a BIG “however”, how can this series possibly come close to getting Dalgliesh right, without the backstory of his poetry? It permeates and defines him.

  2. P.D. James is the very best writer to set atmosphere and setting. The plots are not bad too. I thought Martin Shaw was way better as Dalgliesh than Roy Marden–Marsden character was too disjointed and aloof to me. I really wish somebody would do the last two novels; The Lighthouse, and The Private Patient…they atmospheres’ are fantastic! Anyway, I love all things P.D. James–she’s the best mystery writer of our time!

    • I was not happy with Martin Shaw as AD …Roy Marsden really nailed the character. He was not a warm and fuzzy guy but that was what made him such a great detective.
      I read every book twice and remember when the series premiered on Masterpiece. I am looking forward to the new series but I have to say that , to me , AD will ALWAYS be RM.

  3. I loved the P.D James books – so much better in my opinion than those of Elizabeth George, and also enjoyed the choice of actor to play Dalgliesh. Will look forward to the new inspector.

  4. Are the P. D. James DVD’s with Roy Marsden, available to purchase from retail outlets please?

  5. my husband and I were just saying we need a new mystery series to watch. Thanks for the info. Can’t wait for this one to come out! sounds right up our street:) Cheers!

  6. Can hardly wait!!! I love the Dalgliesh character and Roy Marsden! And I would just love it if they also did Inspector Lynley!!! And even better if someone would do the series of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache (but certainly not by the team that did the one production several years ago…aack!).

  7. I have read all the Dalgliesh books and would love to see any adaptation…but really look forward this new one. Can’t wait

  8. it may be possible to retrieve some of the old Dalgliesh episodes with Ray Marsden from the CBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (cbc.ca/……)??? that’s where I viewed them “back in the day”… thanks

  9. I too have read all of the Dalgliesh books and watched all of the tv productions. I am looking forward to this and I believe I feel prompted to reread those books.

  10. I have read all the Dalgliesh books, and have seen all the TV productions with Roy Marsden. He was the best! However, I look forward to the new ones.

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