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With umbrella, charm and melon

Crime programmes are just as popular in Germany as they are in Britain. And English murder mysteries like Inspektor Barnaby (as Midsomer Murders is known), and Sherlock, have gripped their audiences on both sides of the North Sea.

Judging by the frequency with which locals kick the bucket in Midsomer, the worms must be well fed.  And Krimi (crime programme) loving Germans tune in every week to see what Barnaby will find this time. It’s usually on after the popular crime series Tatort (‘crime scene’), and turns Sunday nights into a true murder fest. Even Angela Merkel, a country girl herself, loves Barnaby. She reputedly watched an episode with David Cameron when she visited him at Chequers. Perhaps the chatty ladies, taciturn farmers and other quirky characters, common features of village life everywhere, are not unknown to her. And whenever Barnaby is off duty, Lewis checks alibis in Oxford.

My personal British crime favourite must be Evil under the Sun with Sir Peter Ustinov as Poirot straining his little grey cells. I have seen it so many times I could play all the parts myself. In fact, the film’s title has become quite a quip in my family, spoken with the typical Poirot accent: “there iz eevil under the sun”.

Germans have a loving and lasting relationship with British crime programmes. If you flick the channels on a lazy afternoon you are bound to come across the odd Miss Marple film with Margaret Rutherford pursing her lips in thought. The quaint English country life is seen as the archetypal setting for the British Krimi, with eccentric detectives sniffing out murder. Recently, there have also been repeats of the strangely translated sci-fi/crime series The Avengers or, as it’s rather whimsically known in Germany, With umbrella, charm and melon. For years this had me wondering when the melon would make an appearance, until I finally realised that it was just a clumsy way of saying bowler hat.

More recently, when the modern take on Sherlock aired earlier this year, the otherwise terrestrial-channel-shy under 30s loved it. Possibly, Guy Ritchie’s blockbuster had helped boost viewing rates, but the show itself is just one example that Britain has a knack for great crime, even reinventing a well-known theme, whether as literature or on the small screen. Seriously, I can’t wait for more. Let’s hope there’s plenty more evil under the sun.

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