12 of the Best Victorian Detective Series

Last updated on the 27 March 2024 by Evandrus

Ripper Street (2012)

the cast of Ripper Street Victorian detective

 

Our first of the Victorian detective series is set in Whitechapel, London during the late 19th century and early 20th century. The show follows Inspector Edmund Reid (played by Matthew Macfadyen), Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) and surgeon Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) as they investigate crimes in the aftermath of Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.

The series begins with Inspector Reid returning to work after three years away from his post following the failure to capture Jack the Ripper. Alongside Drake and Jackson, he tries to solve crimes that plague East London’s community while dealing with personal issues such as Reid’s wife disappearance or Jackson’s addiction problems.

Top cast: Matthew Macfadyen, Adam Rothenberg, MyAnna Buring, Charlene McKenna, Jerome Flynn, David Wilmot, Anna Burnett, Clive Russell and Matthew Lewis.

 

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (2011)

Paddy Considine in The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

 

Our next Victorian detective series tells the true story of a famous Victorian murder case. The story takes place in 1860 in Road Hill House, located in Wiltshire, England. Three-year-old Saville Kent was found murdered and his body dumped down an outdoor privy.

The local police were unable to solve the crime and so Scotland Yard’s newly formed Detective Branch was called upon to investigate. One of their detectives, Jonathan ‘Jack’ Whicher, arrived at Road Hill House to conduct the investigation.

Top cast: Paddy Considine, Peter Capaldi, Tom Georgeson, William Beck, Emma Fielding, Tim Pigott-Smith, Kate O’Flynn, Donald Sumpter and Ben Miles.

 

Miss Scarlet & the Duke (2020)

Kate Phillips in Miss Scarlet & the Duke

 

A little more light hearted than the previous Victorian detective series “Miss Scarlet & the Duke” is a show that revolves around Eliza Scarlet, played by Kate Phillips, who defies societal norms to become the first female private detective in London.

Eliza’s father was a renowned detective, but when he passes away, she inherits his debt-ridden business and decides to take over as the head of the agency. However, due to her gender, she faces resistance from clients and colleagues alike. Despite this opposition and several setbacks along the way, Eliza persists with her ambition to solve complex cases.

Top cast: Kate Phillips, Stuart Martin, Ansu Kabia, Andrew Gower, Kevin Doyle, Cathy Belton, Danny Midwinter and Helen Norton.

 

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett and David Burke

 

“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” is a Victorian detective series based on the famous stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The show ran from 1984 to 1985 and starred Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, with David Burke and later Edward Hardwicke playing his loyal companion Dr. John Watson.

The series adapts twelve short stories from Conan Doyle’s original works, each episode focusing on one particular case that Holmes and Watson must solve together. The cases range in complexity, but all feature intricate puzzles that require the use of deductive reasoning and forensic science techniques to solve.

Top cast: Jeremy Brett, David Burke, Edward Hardwicke, Rosalie Williams, Eric Porter, Charles Gray, Colin Jeavons, Gayle Hunnicutt and Patrick Allen.

Sherlock Holmes (Wikipedia)

 

Murdoch Mysteries (2008)

Cast of Murdoch Mysteries

 

We are off to Canada for the next of our Victorian detective series with “Murdoch Mysteries”, set in Toronto in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The show is based on novels by Maureen Jennings and follows Detective William Murdoch, played by Yannick Bisson, as he solves various crimes using innovative forensic techniques.

Murdoch is an unconventional detective for his time – he’s interested in new scientific methods such as fingerprinting, blood analysis, and ballistics which are not yet widely accepted by his colleagues or society at large. Despite this opposition from others around him, Murdoch persists with his investigations and often uses these emerging technologies to solve complex cases that others can’t.

Top cast: Yannick Bisson, Helene Joy, Thomas Craig, Jonny Harris, Lachlan Murdoch, Georgina Reilly, Kristian Bruun and Arwen Humphreys.

 

Houdini & Doyle (2016)

The cast of Houdini & Doyle

 

Houdini & Doyle is a British-Canadian-American  Victorian detective series that follows the fictional adventures of two real-life historical figures, Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as they investigate supernatural mysteries.

This Victorian Detective series is set in London in the early 20th century, where Houdini and Doyle are recruited by Scotland Yard to help solve paranormal crimes. While Houdini takes a skeptical approach to each case, relying on his knowledge of illusion and deception to explain away any seemingly supernatural occurrences, Doyle is more open-minded about the possibility of otherworldly forces at play.

Top cast: Michael Weston, Stephen Mangan, Rebecca Liddiard, Emily Carey, Tim McInnerny, Adam Nagaitis, Noah Jupe and Diana Quick.

 

Year of the Rabbit (2019)

Year of the Rabbit cast

 

This Victorian detective series is definitely one not to be taken seriously. It follows the misadventures of Detective Inspector Eli Rabbit, a hard-drinking and foul-mouthed policeman who operates in Victorian-era London.

The series takes place in 1887, where DI Rabbit is tasked with solving crimes on the streets of London’s East End. He is aided by his two bumbling sidekicks, Sergeant Wilbur Strauss and Mabel Wisbech, as well as by his superior officer, Chief Inspector Frederick Thursday.

Top cast: Matt Berry, Freddie Fox, Susan Wokoma, Alun Armstrong, Keeley Hawes, David Dawson, Jill Halfpenny and Paul Kaye.

 

The Irregulars (2021)

The cast of The Irregulars

 

A Victorian detective series set in London, The Irregulars centers around Bea, Jessie, Billy, Spike and Leo – a group of misfits who have fallen through society’s cracks and live in poverty on the streets. They are recruited by Dr. Watson, on behalf of Sherlock Holmes, to help him solve cases involving dark magic and otherworldly creatures that threaten the city.

As they delve deeper into their investigations, the team soon realizes that there is more at play than just simple criminal activity. They uncover a sinister plot involving powerful dark forces and must use all their skills and resourcefulness to stop it before it’s too late.

Top cast: Thaddea Graham, Darci Shaw, Jojo Macari, McKell David, Harrison Osterfield, Royce Pierreson, Clarke Peters and Henry Lloyd-Hughes.

 

Arthur and George (2015)

Arthur and George with Martin Clunes

 

A cheeky inclusion here as it is actually an Edwardian not a Victorian detective series that is based on the novel of the same name by Julian Barnes. It follows the true story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, as he investigates a real-life crime.

The series centers around Conan Doyle’s involvement in a case where an Anglo-Indian solicitor named George Edalji was wrongfully convicted for mutilating livestock and sending threatening letters. Despite having no connection to the crimes, Edalji was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Conan Doyle becomes convinced of Edalji’s innocence and takes up his cause, using his fame as a writer to draw attention to the case.

Top cast: Martin Clunes, Arsher Ali, Art Malik, Emma Fielding, Charles Edwards, Hattie Morahan, Sandra Voe and Pearl Chanda.

 

The Alienist (2018)

The cast of The Alienist

 

A Victorian detective series that is based on the novel of the same name by Caleb Carr, and follows a team of investigators as they hunt down a serial killer in late 19th century New York City.

Set in 1896, the series centers around Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a brilliant and unconventional criminal psychologist, who teams up with newspaper illustrator John Moore and police secretary Sara Howard to investigate a string of gruesome murders committed against young boys who work as prostitutes.

Top cast: Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning, Brian Geraghty, Robert Wisdom, Douglas Smith, Matthew Shear and Q’orianka Kilcher.

 

Vienna Blood (2019)

still from Vienna Blood

 

Vienna Blood is a British-Austrian post Victorian detective series based on the Liebermann Papers novels by Frank Tallis and follows a young English doctor named Max Liebermann as he assists Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt in solving crimes in turn-of-the-century Vienna.

The series centers around the unlikely partnership between Liebermann, an expert in psychology and Freudian theory, and Rheinhardt, a seasoned detective who relies on traditional investigative methods. Together they investigate cases involving murder, espionage and political intrigue while navigating the complex social dynamics of Viennese society.

Top cast: Matthew Beard, Juergen Maurer, Amelia Bullmore, Jessica De Gouw, Conleth Hill, Charlene McKenna, Oliver Stokowski and Luise von Finckh.

 

The Law According to Lidia Poët (2022)

The Law According to Lidia Poët

 

An Italian Victorian detective series set during the late 19th century in Turin, Lidia Poët, a young woman, battled against all odds to achieve her rightful place on the official register of lawyers. Despite being a profession exclusively reserved for men at the time, she refused to let anything or anyone stand in the way of her dream to become Italy’s first female lawyer.

Top cast: Matilda De Angelis, Sara Lazzaro, Nicolo Pasetti, Dario AITA, Mia McGovern Zaini, Eduardo Scarpetta, Pier Luigi Pasino, Marit Nissen and Francesco Patanè.

 

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