The Last Detective

The Last Detective is a British TV drama series, broadcast on ITV between 7 February 2003 and 31 May 2007, starring Peter Davison as the title character, Detective Constable "Dangerous Davies". The series is based on the "Dangerous Davies" series of novels written by Leslie Thomas, and was filmed in the north London suburbs of Willesden, Neasden and Harlesden. The gentle but engrossing nature of the series was in stark contrast to other hard-hitting police dramas of the time, but this appeared to be a winning formula, becoming a surprise rating success.

The Last Detective
GenreCrime drama
Created byLeslie Thomas
Written byRichard Harris
StarringPeter Davison
Sean Hughes
Emma Amos
Rob Spendlove
Charles De'Ath
Vineeta Rishi
Elizabeth Bennett
ComposersRupert Gregson-Williams
Alastair King
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series4
No. of episodes17 (list of episodes)
Executive producersMichelle Buck
Tim Vaughan
Damien Timmer
Aviyan Bahri
ProducersNick Hurran
Robbie Sandison
Deirdre Keir
Running time90 minutes (Series 1—3)
120 minutes (Series 4)
Production companiesMeridian Broadcasting
Granada Productions
ITV Productions
DistributorITV Studios
Original networkITV
Picture format16:9
Audio formatStereo
Original release7 February 2003 (2003-02-07) 
31 May 2007 (2007-05-31)

The first series aired in 2003, with three more series following it. The first, second and third series all consist of four 70-minute episodes (90-minutes with advertisements). The fourth series saw the format change to 90-minute episodes (120-minutes with advertisements), and is slightly longer, encompassing five episodes in the series. After a total of seventeen episodes, production company Meridian Broadcasting (later Granada Productions), who produced the programme, stated that the series had been axed due to falling viewing figures, and that the fourth series would be the last.

The Granada series was not the first time that the title character had appeared on television. He previously appeared in a TV movie, first broadcast on 4 January 1981, starring Bernard Cribbins.


The series follows Detective Constable "Dangerous" Davies. Davies discovered a crime committed by a fellow officer at the opening of the series, and is treated as a pariah by his colleagues as a consequence. Moreover, he is committed to his work and is staunchly humane, leading to a view of his being soft by colleagues, and a degree of grudging respect from local criminals. Recurring themes include Davies solving the apparently minor crimes he is given, often resolving more complex and associated crimes (historical or contemporary), and Davies repeatedly being the target of practical jokes by younger but more well positioned detectives in his unit.

As the series progresses his reputation improves with his superior, Detective Inspector (DI) Aspinall, who realises that Davies' intelligence and fair but determined methods make him the best policeman in his squad. A strained mutual respect develops between the two characters as Davies increasingly finds the time to try to understand the troubled, hard drinking DI and his history (and demons).

The other major aspect of the series concerns Davies' private life, which centres on his estranged wife, Julie (played by Emma Amos). The storyline regularly integrates Davies' attempts to address the loss of his wife's respect and to repair the damage done to their marriage after his career stalls in the Metropolitan Police Force; for instance, the estranged character returns to pick up a dog whose custody he shares with Julie (see below), to serve as her occasional chauffeur, and to carry out routine household maintenance at the family home (occasionally intersecting with Julie's new relationship interests).

His work and personal life intertwine in interactions with his friend, the irreverent and rather feckless Mod (short for Modesty) Lewis, played by the Irish comedian Sean Hughes, which include their park bench talks about cases and life, Davies' chauffeuring the unlicensed Mod, and Davies' walking his dog—an unnamed, but consistent character, a Landseer in early episodes, and later a St Bernard. Other recurring plot elements are the now "semi-detached" Davies' interactions with various female characters, episode by episode, and his relationship with Mrs Fulljames (Elizabeth Bennett), the romantic daydreaming landlady of the Bali-Hai Guest House, where he resides for a period.


Series overview

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
147 February 2003 (2003-02-07)28 February 2003 (2003-02-28)
2413 February 2004 (2004-02-13)5 March 2004 (2004-03-05)
3429 May 2005 (2005-05-29)19 June 2005 (2005-06-19)
453 May 2007 (2007-05-03)31 May 2007 (2007-05-31)


Series 1 (2003)

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"The Last Detective"Richard HarrisNick Hurran6.25m7 February 2003 (2003-02-07)
Davies' investigation into the disappearance of a seventeen-year-old girl deepens when he discovers evidence which suggests she was murdered.
2"Moonlight"Richard HarrisDouglas Mackinnon6.26m14 February 2003 (2003-02-14)
The disappearance of an elderly philanderer takes an interesting turn when his abandoned car is found parked in the grounds of Heathrow Airport.
3"Tricia"Richard HarrisPip Broughton5.74m21 February 2003 (2003-02-21)
Davies discovers a link between three separate investigations - an armed robbery at a job centre, the disappearance of a pensioner and a routine house burglary.
4"Lofty"Richard HarrisMatthew Evans6.18m28 February 2003 (2003-02-28)
Davies investigates the drowning of a local character known for collecting discarded scraps of paper - but did he stumble across someone's well kept secrets?

Series 2 (2004)

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"Christine"Richard HarrisFerdinand Fairfax6.18m13 February 2004 (2004-02-13)
Davies investigates the murder of a former Lottery winner after he is burned to death while drunk in a locked room in a suspected arson attack.
2"The Long Bank Holiday"Russell LewisMoira Armstrong5.77m20 February 2004 (2004-02-20)
Davies has to juggle a possible suicide, a murderer who has absconded from prison, the discovery of human remains in a local garden and a spate of computer thefts.
3"Benefit to Mankind"Michael AitkinsGavin Millar5.65m27 February 2004 (2004-02-27)
When the body of a medical researcher is found in the river, Davies suspects the case may be suicide - until the man's co-worker later disappears.
4"Dangerous and the Lonely Hearts"Russell LewisDavid Tucker5.74m5 March 2004 (2004-03-05)
The case of a young Eastern European girl who is arrested for shoplifting takes a bizarre turn when police arrive to interview her mother - and find she has been strangled.

Series 3 (2005)

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"Friends Reunited"Kevin ClarkeA.J. Quinn6.3729 May 2005 (2005-05-29)
Nick Roberts (Peter Sullivan), a multi-millionaire mobile phone salesman, is found dead after being stabbed fifteen times at a school reunion party held by his former classmate Edward Netherton (Steve Pemberton). Prime suspect for the murder is Simon Dabney (Stephen Tompkinson), Nick's former best friend who has since become a heroin addict. Despite Aspinall and Pimlott being convinced of Dabney's guilt, Davies suspects there is more to the case than meets the eye, and discovers that Dabney in fact has an alibi for the time of the murder - the only problem being that the man who supposedly saw him, Denny Flemyng (David Calder), known locally as 'The Man With No Name', is a convicted career criminal who disappeared sixteen years previously, presumed dead. Davies uses Mod's help to try and track down Flemyng in an attempt to prove Dabney's innocence.
2"Towpaths of Glory"Matthew ThomasDavid Tucker6.185 June 2005 (2005-06-05)
Frank Moore, a decorated war hero, is found shot through the head on a garbage pile at the local landfill. Davies suspects that a history of domestic violence against his wife, Cathy (Lindsey Coulson) may somehow be connected to his death. Davies also interviews Craig Thorn (Charles Dale), Moore's former business partner, with whom he had recently fallen out. However, when CCTV footage of an army vehicle close the location of Moore's murder on the night of his death is discovered, the spotlight is soon cast upon members of Moore's former platoon, including volatile sergeant Stephen Kay (Hugo Speer). Meanwhile, Mod has a new job directing customers to a carpet shop, Aspinall tries to make amends with his friends and colleagues as he prepares to give up drinking, and Davies is forced to fend off DS Jez Kendall, who has taken a shine to Julie.
3"Three Steps to Hendon"Tim VaughanMoira Armstrong6.1012 June 2005 (2005-06-12)
Teddy O'Connor (Tony Slattery), former lead singer of 1970s rock band Overnight Sensations, is found dead in his flat after suspected asphyxiation by alcohol. Pimlott and Barrett suspect death by misadventure, believing it is an open and shut case - but Davies isn't so sure. After investigating a noise complaint at a local pub and discovering that Teddy was involved in a punch up shortly before his death, Davies suspects murder, and the post mortem soon backs up his suspicions. Davies interviews Teddy's former bandmates, Harvey Troupe (Tim Healy) and Gerry Jameson (Nigel Planer), who both throw suspicion toward their former manager, Billy Wunder (Ian McNeice), whom they claim sexually abused them throughout their time in the band. However, the investigation takes a surprising turn when a link to the suicide of a fifteen-year-old girl in 1977 is made.
4"Willesden Confidential"Russell LewisMatthew Evans5.8419 June 2005 (2005-06-19)
Geoff Fallon (Connor Byrne), a local stock car driver, is murdered when his car bursts into flames during a race at the local stadium. Forensic analysis uncovers that the fuel supply line to his car had been tampered with prior to the race. Initially, Davies suspects Roly Kingwell (Sid Mitchell), a burger van employee whose five-year-old brother was mowed down and killed by Fallon in a hit-and-run some years previously. Roly initially confesses to the murder, but this only quashes Dangerous's suspicions about his being the killer. Davies's attention turns to Fallon's brother Steve (Aiden Gillen), a fellow stock car driver, with whom he had a friendly rivalry; Fallon's wife, Maureen (Michelle Collins); and local mechanic Andy Holden (Dorian Lough), who was working on the car prior to the race. Meanwhile, Davies agrees to help Aspinall out of trouble, and Mod learns to drive.

Series 4 (2007)

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"Once Upon a Time on the Westway"Matthew ThomasNick Laughland4.48m3 May 2007 (2007-05-03)
A notorious diamond robber, Jimmy Vincent, is released from prison, and within hours, an armed robbery involving the theft of diamonds is reported.
2"Dangerous Liaisons"Ed McCardieDavid Tucker4.52m10 May 2007 (2007-05-10)
The death of an amateur photographer uncovers a snuff film made in the 1980s, which shows footage of a young girl who was later found murdered.
3"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Willesden"Richard LeslieDouglas Mackinnon3.98m17 May 2007 (2007-05-17)
The poisoning of a stand-up comedian working the club circuit leads Davies into the murky world of comedy rivalry and playboy nightlife.
4"The Man from Montevideo"Matthew ThomasSandy Johnson4.34m24 May 2007 (2007-05-24)
Davies investigates the murder of a limousine driver who is found at the wheel of his limo, his neck having been slashed with a broken bottle.
5"The Dead Peasant's Society"Ed McCardieMartyn Friend3.92m31 May 2007 (2007-05-31)
Davies investigates the death of Daniel Boden, who is found dead at the wheel of his car on a football pitch, and uncovers a link to a local Masonic lodge.

Home media

The Last Detective: Complete Collection was released on Region 1 DVD on 20 January 2009 and includes all 17 episodes of the TV show, the earlier TV movie, and other features including an interview with Peter Davison. The DVD set is distributed by Acorn Media UK.

Further reading

  • Robert Lloyd, 2009, "What You're Watching, DVD reviews: 'George Gently' and 'The Last Detective,'" LA Times (online), 18 February 2009, see,[2] accessed 30 December 2018.
  • Lars Walker, 2012, "Netflix Review: 'The Last Detective,'" Brandywine Books (online), 30 October 2012, see , accessed 27 May 2015.
  • Lawrence Russell, 2007, "The Last Detective," Culture Court (online), August 2007, see,[3] accessed 27 May 2015.