The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency kinda came from out of nowhere. I had no knowledge of the Alexander McCall book series the show is based on, nor had I really any extensive knowledge of South Africa – or even Africa itself. Having watched the first two episodes of the series, as well as the pilot film from last year, this show has easily become one of my favorites.
Jill Scott portrays Precious Ramotswe, the only female detective in Gaborone, Botswana who runs her own agency.
Since she is the only female detective in the area, she names her business The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. She’s intelligent, although not completely seasoned in the art of detection. She’s kind-hearted to a fault and firm when she needs to be.
Jill Scott’s performance as Ramotswe is complicated, yet compelling. While the character is an all-around strong, yet jolly individual, she carries with her a troubled past: She was married to an abusive man whose ways cost Precious a child she was to have.
Scott has admitted in interviews that this part of the character was hard to deal with during filming as she most recently divorced from her first husband. Coupled with the fact that while filming the series she was pregnant with child (which she is having with a drummer in her band, Lil’John Roberts), it is to be admired the effort and dedication she’s put into the performance despite the character’s background and her own background being slightly similar.
Scott, while a powerhouse on her own, is greatly helped by a good supporting cast that includes Anika Rose (who plays the agency’s secretary, Grace Makutsi), Lucian Msamati (who plays a car mechanic and possible suitor to Ramotswe, Mr. JLB Matekoni) and Desmond Dube (owner of a hair salon in Gaborone and is also a friend to Ramotswe). Everyone pulls their weight. Never at any time do any of them drag the stories down. If anything, the performances lighten and excite a genre that has been dragged down into moralization and brutalization.
The series has already begun in the UK and has already aired it’s third episode (there are seven in total for this first series). Americans saw the first two-hour pilot film (which aired in the UK last year) on HBO, last night (Sunday, Mar. 26). The show will be repeated this week. For times, go here.
If you like what you see, spread the word. It’s time for positive black television to make an arrival.
I’m Matthew Milam. Let me know your thoughts HERE.