Renwick came up with idea for Jonathan Creek because he was fed up with the glut of detective dramas devoted to action and who dunnit. He wanted to concentrate on how crimes were committed. He then hit on the idea of combining it with the world of magic – as he found how tricks were done fascinating. Magic trick designer-come reluctant detective Jonathan Creek was born.
Will they-won't they
Every detective needs his side-kick… enter Maddy Magellen an investigative journalist and competent liar who is able to infiltrate many a closed crime scene and is the catalyst that leads to Creek turning detective. Over the course of the series, Creek's interest in how the impossible is possible and his somewhat frosty demeanour thaws and a will they-won’t they plot thickens…
Up the Creek
Caroline Quentin was first choice for the part of Maddy (fresh from success in Men Behaving Badly), but producers struggled to find their titular star. People considered, included Nicholas Lyndhurst, Rik Mayall, Hugh Laurie and Nigel Planer. When Alan Davies turned up with his straggly hair and in a duffle coat, the producers realised they were no longer up the Creek.
Unusually for BBC Drama, Jonathan Creek was originally made by the Comedy department, as creator Renwick felt more comfortable in this world. As if to echo this approach, a host of comedians and comedy stars have made guest appearances, including one-time possible Creeks Rik Mayall and Nigel Planer, Joanna Lumley, Bob Monkhouse, Annette Crosbie (star of David Renwick’s sitcom One Foot in the Grave) and Griff Rhys Jones.
Over the years the format has remained the same, but there have been a number of changes in the cast. Anthony Head originally played the part of magician Adam Klaus in the opening episode, but when he was offered the role of Giles in Buffy he was replaced by Stuart Milligan. Caroline Quentin decided not to take part in the 2001 Christmas special and Julia Sawalha joined the cast as theatrical agent Carla Borrego.
When the show returned after a 5 year break, rising star Sheridan Smith replaced Sawalha as Creek’s sidekick, playing the part of paranormal investigator Joey Ross. Three more specials have been screened, the last The Judas Tree screened Easter 2013.
A further three feature- length episodes have recently been announced. Due to stage commitments, Sheridan Smith may not be available although she has been quoted as saying she wants to do both. What a trooper!
Did you know?
Two attempts at making a US version have been attempted with scripts from Renwick. The second one was due to star Whoopi Goldberg!
Real life magician Ali Bongo was the show’s magic advisor.