HE'S AN EX-SOLDIER
With most telly detectives, we don't really get much of an idea of their past. They might make casual mention of "back when I was in uniform", or grumble about some other senior copper they've had a grudge against since they were mere pups in the police. But other than that, most of them tend to exist only in the present. Not so with George Gently: not only does he have a big back story, but it's a fascinating and poignant one - the man fought in World War Two, seeing action in the battle zones of Africa and Italy. In other words, he was already a dashing and fearless hero even before we see him solve a single crime. Impressive.
HE'S A GALLANT ROMANTIC
Gently lives up to his name. He has a gentle manner, and can be on the quiet side. But don't be fooled. Look into those glinting eyes and you'll see vast reserves of passion, straining to be let out. There's little chance of that ever really happening, though, because his heart belongs to one woman: his true love Isabella, whom he met in Europe during the carnage of the 1940s. This was no casual war-time fling - this was the defining romance of his life. She's gone now, killed by a vicious mobster, and there's no getting over her as far as this serious romantic is concerned.
HE'S A MAN OF HONOUR
You'd hope a police detective would be a man of honour anyway, but - in the murky world of George Gently - the presence of integrity is actually a bit of a luxury, and certainly not something you can take for granted. Corruption is everywhere. In fact, institutional corruption - and George's stubborn defiance of sinister forces within the Metropolitan Police - is a big part of his story. On discovering that several high-ranking Met officers were on the take, Gently couldn't simply sit quiet and close his eyes to what was going on. His determination to make things right within the police force is what led to his wife being murdered - a fact he has to live with forever.
HE'S A CARING MENTOR
After the shocking death of his wife, Gently would have been forgiven for throwing his badge into a fire and storming away from police work for good. Perhaps to go and live by the sea somewhere, stare out at the waters and brood. Indeed, he contemplated doing something along those lines, until he crossed paths with young, upstart copper John Bacchus. Recognising the raw potential in him, Gently found himself in the role of mentor, with genuine affection and care about John's welfare. Which would be impressive coming from any older copper, let alone someone who'd be more than justified in never wanting spend time with fellow officers again.
HE'S MARTIN SHAW
Come on, we couldn't very well ignore this essential perk of George Gently. The detective has the great advantage of being played by Martin Shaw, which means he's exactly as suave, warm, charming and resplendent as you'd expect. Always exquisitely turned out in the smart garb of a 60s gentleman, and blessed with that distinctive, ever-ruffled shock of silvery hair, this is a man you'd enjoy watching simply sitting in his office reading a newspaper. Let alone solving complex cases that make our jaws drop...