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Monday, 16 March 2009

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, BBC1

Did we like it?
This is such a sweet, charming programme, it's impossibly not to like it. Unless you have an aversion to colourful, cheery dramas and want to stick to dark, depressing tales such as Red Riding.

What was good about it?
• Anika Noni Rose is a real delight as prim secretary Mma Makutsi – and her tottering but rapid style of walking in high heels is hilarious.
• Jill Scott gives a big-hearted performance as Precious Ramotswe.
• The dazzling brightness of the whole production, making Botswana feel like a 1960s English country village transported into the heart of Africa.
• There's a heartening, simple innocence to many of the characters. Patronising? It doesn't feel that way to us, but we're sure there are arguments to be made.
• The embracing of the hairdresser, who is gay (aka "something else"), by the other characters is a nice touch.
• The addition to the detective agency staff of adorable little Wellington.

What was bad about it?
• It's hard to care to much about Alexander McCall Smith's plots – involving a missing dog, missing husband and misleading dentist – so if the jolly characters don't win you over, it's probably a sugary slog.

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