Upcoming British Detective Drama: The Duke of York Mysteries

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First off, no. Not that Duke of York. 

The Duke of York Mysteries is an upcoming British TV drama that's set to take full advantage of the city of York's rich history and gorgeous scenery. Some are hoping it will do for York what Inspector Morse did for Oxford – bringing international tourists and their big spending to town.

What's The Duke of York Mysteries About?

The Duke of York Mysteries takes inspiration from classic British cosy crime TV like Midsomer Murders, Jonathan Creek, and the numerous adaptations of Dame Agatha Christie's works. The series will follow the detecting adventures of Sebastian Duke, an English gentleman who solves mysteries around the city. 

Duke will be played by Visualize Films' CEO John Danbury (pictured below), though Dave Thorp told the Yorkshire Post the city will be the real star:

York is the star of the show. Vikings, Romans, chocolate factories, railways, Guy Fawkes, ghosts and the supernatural. All the things that make York so fascinating, wonderful and unique are are featured.

The team behind the show have said Sebastian Duke will be sort of a “Roger Moore”-style gentleman, a sophisticated bloke solving crimes with the help of his friends. Though it began filming before the pandemic, continuity issues have rendered the old footage unusable – so they're currently in the process of re-shooting.

 

Well aware of the how much British TV mysteries are loved in the states, Thorp also said: 

There’s an insatiable desire abroad for English crime dramas – Vera is a really big seller and Midsomer Murders has been I think the longest running detetctive series. We were aiming at a British audience – the ideal Sunday evening, 8pm-10pm slots. But it was pretty soon pointed out to us that actually the real potential was abroad, and especially in the United States.

Running a British TV site aimed at a largely American audience, we know that to be all too true. The only real danger is when networks decide to make shows for the American audience and end up changing things in a misguided attempt to “appeal to Americans”. We certainly hope the show retains all the wonderful quirkiness that so often accompanies British mysteries.

When Will The Duke of York Mysteries Premiere?

For now, it's too soon to know a date or streaming service. Production is underway on 3 two-hour episodes, and the team have written 12 episodes in total – so with any luck, we'll have plenty to enjoy in future.

Let's Talk About York…

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Eternal Law

As one of England's most beautiful cities (and my own personal favourite), York is surprisingly under-used in British TV. 

You can see a bit of the city at the beginning of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and the city provides the backdrop for the supernatural legal drama Eternal Law, but there's really no single show that most people connect with the area in the way they might connect Inspector Morse/Endeavour with Oxford or Northumberland with Vera or Port Isaac with Doc Martin

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A view of York's city walls and the York Minster

York is a small cathedral city with Roman origins, and it's situated at the point where two rivers – the Ouse and Foss – meet. Surrounded by the remains of old city walls, it has a feel that's quite different from many other English cities. 

York is also known for its Viking history, playing host to Europe's largest Viking festival every February.

It's a city known for chocolate, too. It was even the birthplace of the KitKat (NOT the York Mint, despite the fact that my father – who knows the York mint was invented in Pennsylvania – insisted he needed a photo of himself with York Mints in York). 

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Charles Hutson with York Mints at York's Chocolate Story

York is also well-known as a major railway hub. Their railway station is gorgeous, and it serves as a key junction between London and Edinburgh. It was also one of only ten British railway stations to get five stars in Simon Jenkins' Britain's 100 Best Railway Stations

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York's Railway Station

Aside from that, the city is home to the UK's National Railway Museum. It's the largest railway museum in the world, attracting almost a million visitors annually.

Even if you can't visit in person, we highly recommend taking a virtual walk around the city in the window below. We've set it to drop you down in The Shambles, a street visited by virtually all tourists to the city – but you can easily wander beyond it by clicking in the direction you wish to travel.

 

If you prefer something a bit less interactive, we recommend David and Debra Rixon's Footloose in Oxford & York. Roughly half of the 2 and a half hour travel programme is set in York, and they walk you through some of the best scenery and most interesting historic attractions. It's not free to watch with Prime anymore, but please keep in mind that they're small, independent producers. It's well worth spending a few dollars to support that kind of work.

It's also the perfect way to fall in love with the city while you wait for the premiere of The Duke of York Mysteries. We've reached out to Visualize Films to find out more about the upcoming series, so hopefully we'll have more to share as the series gets closer to release.