By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.
The first two episodes of AcornTV’s new engaging British coastal crime drama aired on Monday, May 24; subsequent episodes will air on Mondays, through June 21. This series, from the producers of “Marcella,” is called “Whitstable Pearl” and follows single mom Pearl Nolan (Kerry Godliman) who pursues her lifelong dream and starts a private detective agency—which she runs from her family restaurant in the coastal town of Whitstable. Drawn by her caring nature, locals soon flock to her with all kinds of cases, but when a friend dies suspiciously, Pearl finds herself in conflict with the gruff new cop in town, DCI Mike McGuire (Howard Charles).
The series explores the dark undercurrents of murder and debauchery swirling beneath the surface of the picturesque English seaside town of Whitstable, famous for its native oysters and buffeted by the prevailing winds and spray of the North Sea.
Set beneath huge skies and amid the lengthening shadows of a picture postcard town just miles from London, the friction between the locals and the moneyed arrivals from the city is palpable as centuries of village tradition grates against the inevitable pressure of money and gentrification. The British seaside holiday will never be the same again.
The series also stars Frances Barber as Pearl’s outspoken mother, Dolly. Each of the six episodes features its own standalone murder investigation. I enjoyed the first episode of this new series because it does, in fact, include a separate murder investigation with each new viewing—and while fast paced, it is easy to follow.
When Pearl discovers the body of Vinnie, a close family friend, she takes it upon herself to investigate what she believes to be murder. Standing in the way of her detective work is DCI Mike [McGuire], the new Kent police chief who has transferred from London in an attempt to escape from his past. Pearl and Mike clash at first, but then Mike becomes the only other person to share Pearl’s belief that Vinnie was murdered. When a second body shows up, Pearl finds herself pulled into the seedy underbelly of this picturesque town.
Mike is an unpleasant sort at first. He says that he’s not a fan of small towns, because you have to talk to people. “Life is the gift that keeps on disappointing,” he adds.
He is hesitant at first to believe that Vinnie was murdered, and he is even more suspicious of Pearl when another body is found—that of a man named Stroud who allegedly loaned Vinnie money. Mike wonders why when both bodies are found that Pearl just happens to be there. But further searching points to Vinnie’s wife. And then there’s Vinnie’s ex-wife named Tina.
So much is on the line in solving this case. Pearl has always dreamed of becoming a detective, however an unplanned pregnancy in her early twenties left her police career in tatters before it ever truly began. Instead, she resolved to pour all her energy into raising her son, Charlie (Rohan Nedd), alongside working with her mother to build the family seafood restaurant into a thriving business.
Now nearly 20 years’ later, while running the restaurant and her detective agency, Pearl is lamenting Charlie’s soon exodus away from the home and off to college, and in her mother’s opinion, she needs to take more time to care for herself.
But Pearl is astute and really pays attention to details—maybe to a fault. But this attention to details leads her to a source who can lead both Pearl and Mike to the real culprits in this case. This opens up an association between Pearl and Mike that could turn out to melt Mike’s hard demeanor just a bit.
Episode 2 called “Random Acts” involves Mike working with local cop DS Nikki Martel, in an investigation of the death of a diabetic estate agent force-fed marmalade. When a woman hires Pearl to investigate a large sum of cash left in her mailbox, Pearl discovers Whitstable may have a mysterious benefactor—but are they connected to the murder?
The scenery of the coastal town is breathtaking, and the livelihood of the folks who make ends meet by strenuous and labor-intensive work catching the local seafood is an example of what global commerce is all about. This series promises to be exciting and filled with great detective work and background stories.
AcornTV is AMC Networks’ acclaimed streaming service specializing in hard-to-find content from British and International television. You can try it out for free for seven days; thereafter it’s $5.99 a month. Visit https://acorn.tv/.
Take a look at the trailer: TRAILER