Top 20 TV detectives…with a twist

In celebration of Luther, RT runs its magnifying glass over other popular crime-solvers

1. Lewis


Who? Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately)
What? Former Morse sidekick promoted to main man, Lewis is an everyman in an elitist world of dons and classical scholars. Having lost both his wife and long-standing superior officer (see Morse), Lewis is also a study in melancholy.
THE TWIST? Straight-down-the- line, his twist is that he has no twist.
2. Morse 

Who? Inspector Endeavour Morse (John Thaw)
What? Grumpy, lonely and parsimonious, but it took a cultured man to crack knotty cases with links to Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. That burgundy Jaguar was a class act, too.
THE TWIST? Twistan and Isolde

3. Murder, She Wrote 

Mystery writer Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury)
What? Wherever she went, slaughter soon followed, but thanks to a 100 per cent success rate, countless relations were saved from false imprisonment.
THE TWIST? Twisted sister

4. Columbo

Who? Lt Columbo (Peter Falk, right)
What? In need of a good hose-down with Dettol, Columbo was invariably underestimated by his adversaries.
THE TWIST? “Just one more twist”

5. Prime Suspect

Jane “Don’t call me Ma’am” Tennison (Helen Mirren)
What? Dealing with institutionalised sexism in the Metropolitan police, along with a messy personal life, drove her to alcoholism and dogged over-involvement in investigations.
THE TWIST? Twist of lemon

6. Monk 

San Francisco detective Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub)
What? Former recluse, obsessive- compulsive with over 300 phobias including harmonicas and ladybirds.
THE TWIST? round the twist

7. Cracker 

Who? Criminal psychologist Fitz (robbie Coltrane, right)
What? Alcoholic, adulterous, chain-smoking, overweight, gambling addict.
THE TWIST? Twist or stick

8. Taggart

Who? DCI Jim Taggart (Mark McManus)
What? Penchant for shouting “There’s been a murrrrder, ya dunderheid!” Made such an impression that his name remains with the show 16 years after actor McManus’s death.
THE TWIST? Scotch twist.

9. Wallander 

Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh, UK, and Krister Henriksson, Sweden)
What? Disillusioned and unkempt, Wallander struggled to distance himself from the brutality he witnessed. Branagh became one big teardrop, Henriksson an almighty frown line.
THE TWIST? Norse twist

10. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 

Only the greatest detective of all, as played by Jeremy Brett (right)
What? Pipe-smoking, deerstalker-wearing cocaine-addict and, according to Dr Watson, “a calculating machine”.
THE TWIST? Upper-class twist

11. A Touch of Frost 

DI “Jack” Frost (David Jason)
What? Frost won the George Cross but was drunk when he performed his gallant act. Insubordinate, messy and always asking if he can have more.
THE TWIST? Oliver Twist

12. Jonathan Creek 

Jonathan Creek (Alan Davies), aide to a magician. 
What? Mop-haired, duffel-coated, windmill-dwelling Creek solved what appeared to be impossible crimes, for instance in rooms locked from the inside.
THE TWIST? Hey twisto!

13. Miss Marple

Who? Twin-set and pearls with a razor-sharp mind (Joan Hickson, Geraldine Mcewan, Julia McKenzie, right).
What? Her skills of detection were matched only by her knitting aplomb. 
THE TWIST? Twist one, purl one

14. Agatha Christie’s Poirot 

Hercule Poirot (David Suchet)
What? Vain, dapper and in love with his little grey cells, the second most famous Belgian (after Tintin).
THE TWIST? Agatha Twistie

15. Magnum, PI 

Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck)
What? Ferrari-driving, extravagantly moustached wearer of Hawaiian shirts and jeans so tight it’s a wonder he could cross his legs never mind solve crime.
THE TWIST? Twist drive

16. The Rockford Files 

Cowardly klutz Jim Rockford (James Garner)
What? Preferring fishing to chasing bad guys, he had an answering machine for a secretary and a dad fretting that his son was lazy. THE TWIST? “At the twist leave your name and message”

17. Shoestring 

Former computer expert eddie Shoestring (Trevor eve)
What? By day a DJ, out of hours, a “private ear”, he drew sketches of suspects. Tony Hart meets Travis Bickle.
THE TWIST? T-wist, t-woo

18. Father Dowling Investigates 

Chicago cleric Frank Dowling (Tom Bosley)
What? Abetted by investigating nun Stephanie Oskowski, he’s the spiritual heir to GK Chesterton’s Father Brown.
THE TWIST? Twist of faith

19. Ironside 

San Francisco Chief of Detectives robert Ironside (raymond Burr)
What? Paralysed from the waist down by a sniper’s bullet.
THE TWIST? Frisco twist

20. Kojak 

Who? Streetwise and incorruptible Theo Kojak (Telly Savalas)
What? With shiny pate and penchant for lollipops, he loved ya. Baby.
THE TWIST? Peppermint Twist