Period Mystery 'Miss Scarlet and the Duke' Coming to PBS Next Year

Kate Phillips and Stuart Martin in "Miss Scarlet and the Duke" (Photo: A&E International)
Kate Phillips and Stuart Martin in "Miss Scarlet and the Duke" (Photo: A&E International) 

Worlds are colliding for Masterpiece fans - the worlds of period drama and mystery meet in Miss Scarlet and the Duke, a new series heading to PBS at some point in 2020.

Kate Phillips, probably best known among Americans for her role as Linda Shelby on Peaky Blinders, has also appeared in such familiar production as The CrownWolf Hall, and the Downton Abbey movie. Here, she stars as Eliza Scarlet, the first-ever female detective in 19th century London. Stuart Martin - familiar to PBS fans as Silas Sharrow on Jamestown - plays her partner "The Duke". 

When Eliza's father dies, he leaves her penniless in a time when the only real option open to a woman looking for financial security was to get married. Headstrong Eliza has little interest in life as a wife, however, and is determined to find another way. So she turns to her father's business – a private detective agency. After all, she watched him solve crimes for years, she knows all the tricks of his trade. But to successfully operate in a male-dominated society, she needs a partner. Which she happily finds in Detective Inspector William Wellington of Scotland Yard . Also known as The Duke, Wellington is a drinker, a gambler and a womanizer. Together, they solve crimes! Or, rather, they will. 

The two - naturally - strike up a fiery, mismatched partnership that will inevitably be full of all sorts of sexual tension as they team up to solve crimes in 1880s London. I ship it already, is basically what I'm saying. The idea of an alliance between these two misfits is instantly appealing precisely because both characters are so firmly not what people are supposed to be in prim, puritanical Victorian England. 

The series also stars Downton's Kevin Doyle as Eliza's late father Henry, World on Fire's Ansu Kabia as Moses, a well-known but often useful criminal from Jamaica, and Carnival Row's Andrew Gower as Rupert Parker, Eliza's friend who helps launch her detective agency.  

The six-episode series was created by Rachael Newa former writer for Grantchester and The Mallorca Files. The mystery drama will air in 2020 on PBS's Masterpiece. (How cool would it be to see a period series led by a woman as part of next year's Mystery lineup? I'm here for it. We need a lot more of that sort of thing.) 

 Does Miss Scarlet and the Duke sound like something you'd watch?