Sleuthing with Rosemary & Thyme: Excerpt from Television’s Female Spies and Crimefighters

By Karen A. Romanko

The following is an excerpt from my book Television's Female Spies and Crimefighters (McFarland, 2016). The book, available in trade paperback and e-book editions, covers 350 female spies, private investigators, amateur sleuths, police detectives, federal agents and crime-fighting superheroes who have appeared in more than 250 series since the 1950s, from early pioneers such as The Detective's Wife, through 70s hits like Charlie's Angels and Wonder Woman, to recent favorites, including Elementary, Rizzoli & Isles, Sleepy Hollow, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This excerpt is about the UK series Rosemary & Thyme, a British cozy mystery with not one, but two feisty female leads and exquisite English and European gardens, making it one of the most beautiful mystery shows ever produced. The series is currently available on Britbox and DVD.

Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris as Rosemary & Thyme

Rosemary & Thyme (2003-2007, 22 episodes, UK)
Created by: Brian Eastman, Clive Exton
Production Co.: Carnival Films, Yorkshire Television
Originally Aired: Public Television
Main Cast: Felicity Kendal, Pam Ferris

Who would have thought that gardening could be such a bloody business? Professional gardeners Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme travel around England and Europe planting beautiful gardens, while digging up skeletons wherever they go. Rosemary (Felicity Kendal) is a onetime botany professor sacked by her former lover and Laura (Pam Ferris) is a former policewoman left by her husband for a much younger woman. Their paths cross at a rustic hotel in “And No Birds Sing” (2003), and they join forces to uncover a sinister plot involving Rosemary’s sick friend, poison, and diseased trees. With plenty of time now on their hands, the women accept gardening commissions together, but murder, that blighter, is like a weed, as in “The Tree of Death” (2003), when an impaled man is discovered during their churchyard restoration. These bright, brave, and sassy women solve botanical mysteries, such as why the roses are dying at a prep school in “The Invisible Worm” (2004), while answering the perennial question of who left the dead body in the undergrowth. Stunning locations add to the charm of this cozy, but not stodgy, mystery.

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