I was looking forward to seeing Channel 5’s Celebrity Murder Mystery at the weekend.
Six celebrities had been invited to attend a 1920s themed murder mystery weekend. Filmed over three days, they needed to discover who was the killer before they became a victim themselves.
I was expecting the show to be three 60 minute episodes – one for each day – but the editing changed it to two episodes around 90 minutes each. I should have checked the actual times it would be on TV as I’d only allowed a 1 hour viewing slot for the first episode. It meant I missed the last half hour of the first show. I was unable to find it on catch up before the second part was screened, but luckily episode 2 included a catch-up of the previous days action.
Both episodes are now available online, so you can see the full murder mystery at https://www.channel5.com/show/celebrity-murder-mystery/
The murder mystery weekend took place at a beautiful house in Buckingham called Grafton Manor. People online have speculated that the actual house used for filming was Chenies Manor House.
The victims and suspects
Lord Montague Grafton and Lady Helena Grafton lived at Grafton Manor, with their son Charles and their servants Smythe, the butler and Armstong, the maid.
Guests had been invited to the manor for a will reading.
Celebrity Guests comprised Angela Rippon, John Sargent and Sheila Ferguson (above stairs) Su Pollard and Keith Duffy (below stairs) and the vicar, played by Reverend Richard Cole. As well as these guests there was Drysten Marwell (a Laywer), Nancy Bloom (a teacher) and Dr Keats, all played by members of Blackwatch Entertainment.
During the homicidal adventure, the celebrities got to investigate. As they tried to find the killer, and take part in a range of 1920s activities, the body count kept going up….
We’ve been on quite a few murder mystery weekends and were expecting the fun of these events to come across on screen. Just as watching The Crystal Maze makes you want to experience the fun the participants are having and take part yourself, so a filmed murder mystery party should make you wish you were there.
Unfortunately, the thrill and fun of playing a murder mystery was lacking from the TV show.
Only Angela Rippon appeared to throw herself in to solving the murders. Su Pollard was typical Su Pollard, a character you either love or hate. Reverend Richard Cole was sadly underused. Keith Duffy tried to give his opinion on things, but failed. John Sargent and Sheila Ferguson seemed to be having a jolly good time but no idea what they were supposed to be doing. Well, that’s how it seemed to me.
Rather than discussing means, motive and opportunity, the celebrities spent time talking to camera about what a great time they were having. And, to be fair, they were having a great time – learning to dance the Charleston, trying absinthe, flower arranging etc. They had a go at shooting and fencing too.
Which is great for them, but it didn’t move the murder mystery story on. For those of us who love the twists and turns of the plot, these additional items were just a distraction.
I’m not alone in that thought. I’ve seen others comment online that they too would have liked more time spent on advancing the story. Cut the messing around and padding.
Also, while the cast kept in character, the celebrities did not. Yes, we all know it’s not real, but they could have tried harder to be immersed in the plot. Showing surprise over breakfast that “the cast” arrived in character should have given a hint to the celebrities that they should have done the same. Sadly no.
One thing we were not expecting was a celebrity (or two) to be murdered. Now that was surprising.
Did they “guess” the murderer?
You’ll have to watch the show to find out. But if they did name the culprit, it would have been due to guess work not logical deduction. As I said only Angela Rippon (and possibly Keith Duffy) seemed to have the slightest idea what was going on.
As one person commented online “With these celebrities a plane could have flown overhead with a banner saying who was the killer, and they would still have missed it.”
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