Time Life / Region 4 / Seasons 1 and 2 out now, season three coming soon
Derek Jacobi, Sean Pertwee, Eoin McCarthy, Peter Copley, Terence Hardiman, Michael Culver
Ellis Peters came up with a great character in the shape of fifty something medieval benedictine monk Brother Cadfael who out Columbo’s Inspector Morse when it comes to detective work. Set in 12th Century Shrewsbury (but filmed in Budapest, a very popular spot for UK film crews filming period pieces, thanks to low costs and plentiful vintage looking locations), the books were prime candidates for a TV adaptation, especially in the early 1990’s.
Derek Jacobi is tailor made for the role of the tonsured sleuth whose special knowledge of herbs and suchlike add a touch of forensic skill to proceedings too. Opening with the excellent one corpse too many which sees the town of Shrewsbury under a heavy seige during the civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud and an extra body turning up after a mass hanging, Cadfael is wonderfully realised, the producers actually built a medieval town in Budapest complete with a small scale River Severn and the quality really shines through.
The casting is top notch too, Sean Pertwee is a regular in the first season as Sheriff Hugh Beringer (he was later replaced by Eoin McCarthy) as is the brilliant Terence Hardiman as Abbot Radulfus, there are also some high quality guest stars popping up including the likes of the gorgeous Anna Friel and ex Coronation star Roy Barraclough. The period setting means this hasn’t dated a jot of course and with its big budget gloss could have just been made. Cadfael is wonderful viewing well worth seeking out.
The three two disc sets are available to buy seperately.