Hetty Wainthropp Investigates

Hetty Wainthropp Investigates is a British television crime drama series, starring Patricia Routledge as the title character, Henrietta "Hetty" Wainthropp[1], that aired for four series between 3 January 1996 and 4 September 1998 on BBC One. The series, spawned from a pilot episode entitled "Missing Persons" aired by ITV in 1989, was co-created by writers David Cook and John Bowen, co-starred Derek Benfield as Hetty's patient husband Robert, and Dominic Monaghan as her assistant and lodger Geoffrey Shawcross.

Hetty Wainthropp Investigates
GenreCozy crime
Created byDavid Cook
StarringPatricia Routledge
Derek Benfield
Dominic Monaghan
John Graham Davies
Suzanne Maddock
Frank Mills
Composer(s)Nigel Hess
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series4
No. of episodes28 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Michael Wearing
Viplav Shome
Producer(s)Carol Parks
CinematographyJohn McGlashan
Editor(s)Malcolm Banthorpe
Running time104 minutes (Pilot)
75 minutes (S01E01)
50 minutes (S01E02—)
Production company(s)BBC TV Productions, Yorkshire Television (pilot)
DistributorAcorn Media
Original networkITV (Pilot)
BBC1 (Series)
Picture format4:3
Audio formatStereo
Original release30 May 1989 (1989-05-30) 
4 September 1998 (1998-09-04)

Other co-stars in the series include John Graham Davies as local chief of police DCI Adams; Suzanne Maddock as Janet Frazer, a feisty young auto mechanic; and Frank Mills as Robert's brother Frank. In the United States, episodes have broadcast as part of PBS's anthology series Mystery!. A parody of the series, entitled Wetty Hainthropp Investigates, aired on 12 March 1999 as part of the Comic Relief telethon. It starred Victoria Wood, Julie Walters and Duncan Preston.


Hetty Wainthropp Investigates is based on characters from the novel Missing Persons (1986) by David Cook, who co-wrote the episodes with John Griffith Bowen. The incidents in Cook's novel were inspired by his own mother's experiences. Prior to the pilot going into production, Patricia Routledge read the story Missing Persons for BBC Radio 4's A Book At Bedtime in February 1987.[2]

In 1989 ITV broadcast a feature-length pilot, Missing Persons, featuring Tony Melody as Robert Wainthropp and Garry Halliday as Geoffrey Shawcross, but ITV opted not to pursue a series. The storyline of this episode is ignored in the subsequent BBC series, with the first episode establishing Hetty as a detective in her first case and meeting Geoffrey for the first time. The characterization of Hetty was altered considerably for the series from the pilot. The 'original' Hetty was blonde and far more 'theatrical' in her manner. Additionally, the pilot character lived in considerably better circumstances than the home seen in the series.

The BBC series was filmed primarily in Burnley, Darwen, Blackburn, Rossendale, Bolton and other locations in Lancashire.

The music for the series was composed by Nigel Hess, the cornet solo was performed by Phillip McCann and in 1997 the title track was awarded the Ivor Novello Award for best television theme.

The BBC series was popular with viewers, but no further episodes were commissioned after 1998. In 2008 Patricia Routledge said in an interview that the cast and crew had been told by the BBC at the end of the fourth series that a fifth series would be commissioned, but it never was.[3] In 2017 Suzanne Maddock shared her memories of making Hetty Wainthropp Investigates in a 45-minute interview for "The Bill Podcast" and explained how she felt disappointed for the fans of the series that they did not get to see a proper conclusion to the series.[4]


Hetty Wainthropp is a retired working-class woman from Darwen in North West England, who has a knack for jumping to conclusions and solving crimes of varying bafflement which often are too minor to concern the police. Although on occasion her husband offers assistance, he more often than not tends to the home while Hetty gads about the countryside with young Geoffrey in search of resolution and justice. In many episodes Hetty seeks the help and advice of DCI Adams of the local constabulary.



Pilot (1989)

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"Missing Persons"Derek BennettDavid Cook30 May 1989 (1989-05-30)
During a visit to childhood friend Edith, retired housewife Hetty Wainthropp discovers that her husband, Frank, has a son by a previous marriage. Hetty decides to turn amateur detective to trace him. When this gives her a taste for detection, Hetty decides to set up a private detective agency.

Series 1 (1996)

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"The Bearded Lady"John GlenisterJohn Bowen & David Cook3 January 1996 (1996-01-03)
Hetty's part-time job in the Post Office leads to an investigation of pension fraud, which begins with the uncovering of the death of a bag lady. But was it an accident?
2"Eye Witness"John GlenisterJohn Bowen & David Cook10 January 1996 (1996-01-10)
Hetty and Robert investigate the case of a missing bird watcher.
3"Fingers"Robert TronsonJohn Bowen & David Cook17 January 1996 (1996-01-17)
While on holiday with Robert in Italy, Hetty takes on new clients, who claim their son, who lives in the UK, has been kidnapped by the Mafia who have been sending his fingers to them.
4"Widdershins"Robert TronsonDavid Cook & John Bowen24 January 1996 (1996-01-24)
Robert receives news that his Uncle Albert, a former footballer and his childhood hero, has been found dead from an apparent suicide. Refusing to believe it, Hetty discovers the village where he lived used to have witches. Is there a connection?
5"A High Profile"John GlenisterJohn Bowen & David Cook31 January 1996 (1996-01-31)
Hetty helps a distressed mother to find her schizophrenic son who is in need of his medication.
6"Safe As Houses"Robert TronsonDavid Cook & John Bowen7 February 1996 (1996-02-07)
An old acquaintance asks Hetty to track down her missing foster daughter who may be responsible for a series of local arson attacks.

Series 2 (1996—1997)

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"Poison Pen"Roger BamfordJohn Bowen & David Cook29 November 1996 (1996-11-29)
Basking in a glow of publicity from their last successful job, the agency has more work than it can handle. While Hetty tries to help a stricken village, can Robert and Geoffrey conduct their own case?
2"Lost Chords"Robert TronsonDavid Cook & John Bowen6 December 1996 (1996-12-06)
It's the 50th anniversary of the Blainthorp Music Festival and there is fierce competition to be chosen as the Golden Voice. Suddenly the finalists start losing their voices - and Hetty must find out why.
3"Runaways"Robert TronsonDavid Cook & John Bowen13 December 1996 (1996-12-13)
The Mayor of Titterslow wants Hetty to find his daughter, but there must be no publicity and no police. Hetty discovers where Susan planned to go, but she hasn't arrived. Why not, and who is with her?
4"The Astral Plane"Roger BamfordJohn Bowen & David Cook20 December 1996 (1996-12-20)
DCI Adams approaches Hetty with a case he cannot follow up: a spiritualist appears to be blackmailing her clients. Disguised as a grieving widow, Hetty isn't prepared for what she hears.
5"A Rose By Any Other Name"David GilesJeremy Paul3 January 1997 (1997-01-03)
Gillian's family are convinced that Lester Rose wants to marry her for her money. Hetty has one week to find out if his intentions are honourable.
6"Woman of the Year"Rob BenfieldJohn Bowen & David Cook10 January 1997 (1997-01-10)
Hetty goes undercover as a "battered wife".

Series 3 (1997—1998)

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"All Stitched Up"David GilesJeremy Paul28 November 1997 (1997-11-28)
Hetty joins a quilt making circle in order to find out who is terrorising a housing estate.
2"Daughter of the Regiment"David GilesBrian Finch5 December 1997 (1997-12-05)
A bride-to-be is being stalked. When her mother seeks Hetty's help, she is totally unprepared for the consequences.
3"Serving the Community"Don LeaverPhilip Martin12 December 1997 (1997-12-12)
Hetty faces danger when she agrees to track down a gang who have attacked local Indian restaurant owners.
4"Fisticuffs"Don LeaverJeremy Paul19 December 1997 (1997-12-19)
Hetty seeks compensation for the victim of a road rage incident in which a female driver hit another in the face.
5"Child's Play"John GlenisterBrian Finch2 January 1998 (1998-01-02)
The Wainthropps' nephew has been excluded from school. But has he been wrongly accused?
6"Pursuit By Proxy"John GlenisterPeter Gibbs9 January 1998 (1998-01-09)
Hetty represents a neighbour at a creditors' meeting and her agency is asked to find a missing company director and his money.
7"A Minor Operation"Jim GoddardPhilip Martin16 January 1998 (1998-01-16)
Hetty is in hospital - an unlikely place to find her most urgent case yet.
8"Helping Hansi"Jim GoddardPhilip Martin23 January 1998 (1998-01-23)
Hetty is asked by Hansi, a German pensioner, to help track down his sister whom he last saw during the war.
9"How Time Flies"David GilesJeremy Paul30 January 1998 (1998-01-30)
Hetty's trip down memory lane is interrupted by an absent-minded clock mender who is being pursued by two small-time crooks.

Series 4 (1998)

Episode Title Written by Directed by Original airdate Viewers
1"Something to Treasure"Philip MartinDavid Giles24 July 1998 (1998-07-24)5.55
A widow calls on the Wainthropp Detective Agency to investigate the theft of a book written by her late husband.
2"Family Values"Brian FinchDavid Giles31 July 1998 (1998-07-31)6.54
Robert and Geoffrey go undercover when Hetty is asked to investigate the circumstances of a death.
3"Digging For Dirt"Peter GibbsMike Vardy7 August 1998 (1998-08-07)6.51
Hetty is called in to mediate when a local councillor's mother refuses to leave her flat, which is earmarked for demolition.
4"Mind Over Muscle"Peter GibbsRobert Tronson14 August 1998 (1998-08-14)6.92
Hetty's latest client is her hairdresser whose husband is attacked, seemingly at random, in a gents' toilet.
5"Blood Relations"Philip MartinRobert Tronson21 August 1998 (1998-08-21)7.24
A reunion with her long-lost cousin sets Hetty on the trail of smugglers in a quiet Yorkshire fishing village.
6"For Love Nor Money"Jeremy PaulMike Vardy4 September 1998 (1998-09-04)7.44
Robert’s brother Frank comes to stay and brings Hetty the case of a missing Victorian school mum.


All four series have been released on DVD in the United Kingdom and United States by Acorn Media. In Australia, the series was released by Madman Films. In Belgium and the Netherlands, the series was released by Lime-Lights Pictures.

DVD Name Release Date
Region 1Region 2Region 4
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: Missing Persons29 March 20059 May 2005[6]N/A
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete First Series7 September 200411 October 200431 October 2007
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Second Series9 August 200522 January 20079 April 2008
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Third Series31 January 20065 March 20079 July 2008
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Fourth Series27 June 200610 September 20078 October 2008
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Collection4 September 20077 January 200820 October 2009
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Collection - RemasteredN/A14 August 2017[7]N/A


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