Jonathan Creek 1998 Christmas Special Black Canary (1998) – 7/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Caroline Quentin: Maddy Magellan
Writer: David Renwick
Rik Mayall: D.I. Gideon Pryke
Hannah Gordon: Marella Carney
Kate Isitt: Charlotte
Francis Matthews: Jerry Bellinitus
Murray Melvin: Lionel Prekopp
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson

Jonathan Creek Xmas 1998 Black Canary (1998)

Maddy and Creek investigate the suicide of the mother of an old flame of Jonathan’s but there are complications. First of all the last person to be seen talking to her left no footprints in 4-inch deep snow, secondly the fatal shotgun wound to the head, according to pathology reports, happened five hours before it was witnessed happening and third, she was already dead from an overdose of drugs. Fortunately, the police detective assigned, D.I. Gideon Pryke, appears to have a bit of savvy and may not even need Jonathan’s help in solving the mystery.


Renwick’s ability to come up with small pieces of business that add flavour and interest to his already intriguing plots is unmatched. The first is the gender of a sergeant, the second being Rik Mayall as that most unusual of characters in the amateur-detective series, an intelligent police official. On top of these two main themes, there are many other things to enjoy; Jonathan Creek’s magician ogling a young costumier, his frog suit, his trip to hospital; Creek locking his car door when he sees an enormous ugly man walk up to the car next to him; a suitably horrific saw-the-woman-in-half trick that goes bloodily wrong. The spark of life that is supposed to be delivered by Caroline Quentin (and is not) has obviously been playing on the mind of writer / executive producer David Renwick and producer Verity Lambert and the solution proved to be the casting of Rik Mayall as an intelligent and as-clever-as-Creek police official. He pops up, smarms, charms and grins his way around the screen; an irrepressible ball of energy. Also of note in the cast is Sanjeev Bhasker as the doctor who has the pleasure of delivering the film’s final and, perhaps, best gag to round things off nicely.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue and gory and unpleasant scenes, extremely horrific scenes (more so than you’re expecting with a pg), very strong gun violence, attempted suicide.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.