Jonathan Creek: Wikis


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Jonathan Creek
Jcreek title.jpg
Jonathan Creek title screen.
Format Drama / Mystery
Written by David Renwick
Starring Alan Davies
Caroline Quentin (1997-2000)
Julia Sawalha (2001-2004)
Sheridan Smith (2009-)
Stuart Milligan (1998-)
Adrian Edmondson (2003-2004)
Country of origin  United Kingdom
No. of episodes 27 (List of episodes)
Running time 60 minutes (Series 1 and 4)
50 minutes (Series 2 and 3)
3 x 90 minutes
2 x 120 minutes
Original channel BBC One
Original airing 10 May 1997–present

Jonathan Creek is a British mystery series produced by the BBC and written by David Renwick. Primarily a crime drama, the show is also peppered with broadly comic touches, and stars Alan Davies as the titular character, a creative consulant to a magician who also solves seemingly supernatural mysteries through his talent for logical deduction and knowledge of illusionism.

The series ran semi-regularly from 1997 to 2004, airing four series and two Christmas specials, initially co-starring Caroline Quentin as Creek's collaborator, writer Maddie Magellan. After Quentin's departure in 2001, Julia Sawalha joined the cast as new character Carla Borrego, a theatrical agent turned television presenter. Following a five-year hiatus, the series returned for a one-off special on 1 January 2009, "The Grinning Man", which featured Sheridan Smith as another paranormal investigator with whom Creek joins forces. A further 90 minute special "The Judas Tree", was filmed in Summer 2009 for broadcast at Easter 2010.[1][2]

The cult success of the series won it the BAFTA for Best Drama Series in 1998. It was actually notable for featuring comic characters and sub-plots which lent a lot of humour to the series. Unusually, it was produced by the BBC's in-house Entertainment department rather than the Drama department — this was because Renwick preferred working with people he knew rather than the people at Drama who might not share his vision.[3] When the series was made, it included stars and guest-stars such as Bob Monkhouse, Griff Rhys Jones, Rik Mayall, Jack Dee and John Bird, who are mainly associated with comedy, but who put on straight performances.

The first two seasons were broadcast in the U.S. on a number of PBS stations, while the remainder aired on BBC America.


Concept & casting

David Renwick wanted to write a detective series that dealt with the actual work of detection rather than action, which most crime dramas appeared to focus on at the time.[3] Also, whereas most of these were about who did it (Inspector Morse or Taggart) and why it was done (Cracker), this new series would be about how it was done with an element of magic thrown in, such as murders committed in locked rooms, a person being in two places at once or impossible thefts; finding a culprit would still be part of the detective's job but the emphasis would be on how the crime was committed.

Magic would play an important part of the series, but it would be in the form of tricks and sleight-of-hand used by stage magicians to deceive their audiences. The programme often exposed how such tricks are actually done, the way being quite "banal" compared to the trick itself.

The series would also focus on the relationship between Creek and his collaborator Maddie Magellan, a writer who often uses dishonest means in order to expose miscarriages of justice. It would be a mainly platonic one, though they do at some stage consummate their relationship only to agree that it must never happen again. (In his early planning, Renwick had thought that Maddie should be Creek's stepmother and that they would investigate crime in memory of his murdered father. However, he decided that the concept of the avenging son was far too "Batman" and in the series Creek's parents are mentioned as having moved to America.)[3]

Caroline Quentin was Renwick's first choice for Maddie Magellan, but the casting of Creek proved something of a problem. Renwick had wanted Nicholas Lyndhurst, but he turned it down. Rik Mayall was also offered the part but was, at the time, busy with stage work (he would later guest-star in a Christmas special of the series). Hugh Laurie showed a great deal of interest and agreed to take the part, but later turned it down as he could not figure out Creek's motivations for investigating the cases Maddie involves him in, especially when he shows so much reluctance in some of the episodes.[3]

Others who were tried for the part included Nigel Planer and Angus Deayton, both very popular at the time, but lacking a certain something that identified them as Creek. Almost a dozen actors were considered before producer Susan Belbin saw Alan Davies during a rehearsal for a sitcom. Davies was invited round to talk to Renwick and "turned up in his duffle coat with straggly hair and a broad grin [and] was self-evidently the closest match yet to Creek as we had always seen him".[3]



Main cast


as of 1 January 2009


Guest cast

Many well-known actors have appeared in the series, including Bob Monkhouse, Rik Mayall (who had been considered to play Jonathan) and Jack Dee who are better known for their comedy roles. Other guest stars, both comedy and straight, have included: Steven Berkoff, Geoffrey McGivern, John Bluthal, Kate Isitt, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nigel Planer, Griff Rhys Jones, Hattie Hayridge, Alistair McGowan, Tamsin Greig, Katherine Parkinson, Colin Baker, Brian Murphy, Mary Tamm, Jim Bowen, Peter Davison, Maureen O'Brien, Lysette Anthony, Mark Caven, Lorelei King, Geoffrey Beevers, Annette Crosbie, Charlie Brooks, Maureen Lipman, Paul Blackthorne, Jimmi Harkishin, and Bill Bailey (who was also pencilled as the original Jonathan Creek).

Jonathan Ross, Michael Grade and Bamber Gascoigne have all appeared as themselves.

See also: List of Jonathan Creek cast members


The series follows the exploits of Jonathan Creek, a designer of illusions for a stage magician, and — in the first three series — Maddie Magellan, a pushy journalist, as they work together to solve crimes where others have failed.

Creek contributes his lateral thinking, and Magellan is a plausible liar who never seems to have trouble sneaking in to closed crime scenes. The programme usually features 'impossible crimes', for example an offence having been committed in a sealed environment from which no criminal could have escaped (a "locked room mystery"), paranormal thefts and murders. Creek solves these cases using his knowledge of misdirection and illusion. No matter how fantastic the crime appears to be at first, he always finds a rational explanation, giving the character a passing resemblance to stage magician turned paranormal investigator James Randi.

Creek's employer is the amoral and ambitious Adam Klaus, a flamboyant performer with a sinister stage persona who is really a drug-addled, insensitive womaniser. In some instances, his magic tricks go comically wrong. The character appears on camera infrequently, his shenanigans usually revealed to or by Jonathan in conversation with other characters. Sub-plots in the episodes revolve around the problems that Adam gets himself into and how Jonathan has to get him out of them, such as when Adam was blackmailed by a barmaid after spending the night with her, or when he was forced to hire a midget as a bodyguard in order to appear more politically correct. Some aspects of the character were inspired by Ali Bongo.[4]

As the series progressed, Creek gradually changed from an antisocial anorak to a man with a great deal of wit and charm. This helped to fuel the romantic thread between him and Maddie. Jonathan's trademark duffle coat worn in the first series was actually Alan Davies' own coat that he wore to the auditions; it helped him win the role, as the writer and producers thought it suited the character. After the first series, Jonathan's coat was supplied by the wardrobe department. Davies kept the original at his home, and wore it again for the 2009 New Years' special.[5]

For the 2001 Christmas special and thereafter, Caroline Quentin declined to appear, and so a second supporting role was introduced, theatrical agent Carla Borrego, played by Julia Sawalha. After her first appearance, the character married TV producer Brendan Baxter (Adrian Edmondson), and she became a TV presenter.

Part of the humour comes from the fact that Jonathan often doesn't want to get involved in other people's problems, and has to be pressured into it by Maddie or Carla. In "The Scented Room", which centred around a theft from a critic who had lambasted Adam's act, he took great delight in announcing he had solved the crime but wasn't going to tell anybody how it was done. Initially Jonathan was only brought in to investigate because he was asked by Maddie due to her having a connection to the crime, or because it involved an old friend of hers. As time went on, he acquired a more significant reputation and was independently recruited by such varied contacts as a chief of police or the United States military.

Over time the show became noticeably darker, with Jonathan investigating psychopaths, pimps, gangsters and corrupt policemen, who stood in stark contrast to the duplicitous suburbanites of earlier series. The 2009 special contained a hybrid of elements from earlier and later seasons, with the lethal engineering element, somewhat reminiscent to 'Mother Redcap', and the torture and murder of a young woman as she is held dangling by a rope in the middle of a room.



The distinctive theme tune is an arrangement of Camille Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre by Julian Stewart Lindsay, who also wrote the underscore for the first three series, after which the underscore for the remaining series and two specials was written by Rick Wentworth.

Similarity to other shows

Other television programmes have utilised the same formula of a magician helping police to solve crimes[6], such as the U.S.-made programmes The Magician starring Bill Bixby aired in 1973-74, and 1986' short-lived Blacke's Magic, starring Hal Linden.[7] Other current American series utilising a similar format include The Mentalist and Psych, the latter two revolving around "mind-readers" who use their skills to help solve crimes and mysteries.[6]

There were two attempts to make a U.S. version of Jonathan Creek. The first involved Castle Rock, the production company behind series such as Seinfeld, but the initial scripts were not felt good enough, and David Renwick's scripts were rejected by CBS.[8] The second attempt, also by Renwick, was for Whoopi Goldberg and would have included Alan Davies.[8]

DVD releases

Regions 2 (UK) and 4 (AUS)

DVD Date
Series 1 & 2 16 February 2004
Series 3 & 4 & the Christmas Specials 2 August 2004
Complete Series 1-4 & the Christmas Specials 29 November 2004
The Grinning Man 19 October 2009
The Judas Tree 12 April 2010

Series One was released in Region 1 (US/Canada) in December 2006. Series Two was quietly released in Region 1 in late 2007. Series Three was released in Region 1 on 20 January 2009. Series Four and The Christmas Specials have not yet been released on Region 1 DVD.


  1. ^ Direct quote from Alan Davies's Twitter on 17/05/09: "One-off JC special filming in sep/oct, possibly on BBC1 next easter".
  2. ^ Direct quote from Alan Davies's Twitter on 20/04/09: "Have just received the new Jonathan Creek script. Shooting in the summer,90min. Sadly,the BBC want to put it out next Easter, not at Xmas..."
  3. ^ a b c d e The World of Jonathan Creek by Steve Clark, BBC Worldwide Ltd
  4. ^ Direct quote from Alan Davies's Twitter on 10/03/09: "Thanks for all tweets regarding Ali Bongo's passing.He was a great inventor of tricks & the inspiration for J Creek, nice man."
  5. ^ Wylie, Ian (18 December 2008). "Jonathan Creek gets creepy", Manchester Evening News, M.E.N. Media. Retrieved on 19 December 2008.
  6. ^ a b [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ a b [3]

External links

Preceded by
British Academy Television Awards
Best Drama Series

Succeeded by
The Cops


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Jonathan Creek is a British mystery series produced by the BBC and written by David Renwick. Primarily a crime drama, the show stars Alan Davies as the titular character, an eccentric magician's assistant who also solves seemingly supernatural mysteries through his talent for logical deduction and knowledge of illusionism. No matter how magical the mystery — a locked-room murder or a seemingly impossible theft — the detective would come up with a very down-to-earth explanation as to what happened. Although a crime drama, the series contained often broadly comical touches as well.


Series 1

The Wrestler's Tomb

Jonathan is posing as a camera operator
Maddie: It's called a Steadicam. It eliminates jerks.
Jonathan: So does Clint Eastwood, I wouldn't want him strapped to my chest.

Jack in the Box

Maddie: You know Jack Holliday died?
Jonathan: Yeah, it's the only thing he ever did that made me laugh.
Maddie: Oh, that's great! The poor man's dead!
Jonathan:I bet that won't stop him overacting, though.

The Reconstituted Corpse

Shelford: That was unfortunate. I completely misjudged the water pressure on those taps and, of course, it went everywhere. Fortunately it's not urine, so it won't stain.

Series 2

Danse Macabre

Maddy: Come on, I've admitted defeat. Let's get on with it; the bit you enjoy, treating me like a moron.
Jonathan: No. The bit where you enjoy making me feel like I'm treating you like a moron. When you're perfectly capable of reasoning it out for yourself if only you'd stop taking things at face value.

Maddy: I'm sorry, Jonathan, what level of surrealism are we operating on here?
Jonathan: Y'see, this is where you and everyone else give up. You're making the big mistake of sticking to what's likely rather than what's logical.

Time Waits For Norman

Woman: You're saying there's actually a real person called Jonathan Creek, he's not just a narrative conceived for story telling purposes?
Man: All that stuff, he invents all those tricks.
Madeline Magellan: And he lives in a windmill, it's all for real.
Woman: Right. Isn't that funny?
Madeline: What?
Woman: Suddenly I find him less believable.

Jonathan: She made all of the moves and now I'm boxed in. We've got nothing whatsoever in common and if I try and break it off she'll think it's because of you know what [her baldness]. Which she's obviously very sensitive about.
Madeline: I'm not surprised! Didn't you get suspicious when you were running your fingers through her hair and she wasn't even in the room?!

The Scented Room

[Jonathan has refused to reveal the solution]
Maddy: It's no sweat, y'know. I'll work it out for myself. I've seen everything you've seen. I'm not a complete and utter moron.
[Jonathan starts to leave]
Maddy: Yes?
Jonathan: I never said anything.
Maddy: Look, just give me a leg-up to get me started. Please? Just one tiny hint?
Jonathan: Look to Eric's Spam sandwich. It contains the key to the whole affair.

Jonthan: Did it ever occur to you that someone could have cut it without actually being in the room? Using a high-powered laser through the glass in the cieling.
Maddy: You are Kidding!
Jonathan: Of course I am, the idea's ridiculous. In fact the way this was worked was so sublimely simple, when I tell you, you'll wonder why you didn't get it in five seconds flat.

Jonathan: You mean Pot Pourri? One of the biggest cons of the Twentieth Century. People pick it up in a shop, what's the first thing they do? [Mimes sniffing a bowl of Pot Pourri] "mmm, smell this one! That's sensational! I'll have some of that!" Of course it is if you shove your face in it. Put some in a bowl in the middle of the room, you can't smell a bloody thing. There should be a label on the packet "only effective when inserted up nostril"

Adam Klaus: [On the phone to Jonathan] If you could choose the manner of your own death, would it be (A) Peacefully in your sleep? (B) Breathlessly with Nicole Kidman? or (C) Being dismembered by a homicidal illusionist? If 'c', simply hang up now.

The Problem at Gallow's Gate

Jonathan: How come when I stay at your place you get the bed and I get the sofa, but when you stay at my place you still get the bed and I get the sofa?
Maddy: Because you were being terribly chivalrous and gentlemanly and very solicitous of my welfare [Pause] Don't I get anything to eat?

Maddy: Where do you keep your salt?
Jonathan: See that cupboard just above you? Top Shelf. Right at the back... there's a leaflet from the hospital explaining why it's bad for your arteries.

Jonathan: I'm trying to achieve a level of abstract thought here. Trying to prise this whatever-it-is out of my memory.
Maddy: Well what is it? Let me have a go.
Jonathan: I told you, I can't put it into words. It's purely intuitive. It's just a feeling. It won't come into focus until it's ready.

Jonathan:But what you see isn't always what's happening. And what you all saw that night, I've got a horrible feeling, was a very brilliantly concieved hoax.
Maddy: Here we go, he's gonna tell us how it was done.

Mother Redcap

Investigator: Ever since the man who owned and ran this place died, it was 1969 - a man named William Amberghast, the old Mother Redcap pub in Edmonton has been property market poison. Whether it's superstition or what, I don't know. Would you buy a hundred year-old building where seven men have been quite literally terrified to death?
Investigator: The way it's told: the first one, Mr Clifford Jennings, managing director of a big clothing firm, was staying overnight with a lady friend in a special guest room that was kept for visitors. Round about Midnight he was preparing for bed. The death certificate said it was his heart. The truth was, no-one knew what had killed him. The girl was convinced he'd seen something... outside. "Something so utterly horrible it set off a fatal siezure". Between 1947 and '51 there were five other cases, deaths that which have never been explained from that day to this. All in the same room. All after they'd looked out of the window in the middle of the night.Not a mark or scratch on any of the bodies. No evidence they'd been poisoned or suffocated. Four of them were found on the floor the next morning. Three were actually seen at the moment of death, collapsing in what appeared to be a fit of mortal terror.

[Jonathan has been abducted and brought to a police station]
DCI Ken Speed: I'm sorry about the neanderthal tactics of my two constables. They were under the impression they were bringing a suspect in.
Jonathan: So I gather. I confessed to two armed robberies before we reached the first set of traffic lights.

Jonathan: So the deal, as I see it, is this: If I come up with a solution that leads to the killer's arrest, by next week I'm highest new entry on the Tong's UK death list. Not much of an incentive really.

Maddy: What's that theory? That absolutely everything that happens in the world is connected to everything else. I read an article once. If a man breaks wind in Houndslow, it can affect a hurricane in Java. I think I know the man they're talking about, he travels on the Circle Line.

Jonathan:What was it Sherlock Holmes said to Watson?
Maddy: Get your kit off and give us a kiss?

Christmas Special (1998)

Black Canary

Adam Klaus: [To Jonathan] I always thought your love life would make a great play by Samuel Beckett, a great nihilistic quality it has.

[Jonathan and Maddy are driving through a snowstorm]
Jonathan: How anyone can drive a car at this time of year without a windscreen washer.
Maddy:It's got a windscreen washer!
Jonathan:Yeah, but it's not much use on the back seat is it?
Maddy: The guy who was gonna fit it did a runner, it's not my fault. A bit of fresh air won't harm you.

DI Gideon Pryke: I can smell guilt on a man like dung on a donkey.

[Maddy's interrupted Jonathan's evening]
Maddy: I thought I might be useful.
Jonathan: What as? A contraceptive!

Christmas Special (2001)

Satan's Chimney

Carla Borrego: Have you ever slept in a castle with a moat before?
Jonathan: I once passed out in front of a block urinal.


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