There’s a new wrinkle in Miss Marple-style sleuthing with AcornTV’s “Mrs. Sidhu Investigates” and that is an Indian auntie with a talent for snooping alongside high-end catering.
“I always like to write something about community,” Suk Pannu, the series’ creator and writer of all four 90-minute episodes, said in a Zoom interview from London.
Pannu sets “Mrs. Sidhu,” which begins Monday, in Slough, “An industrial town in a beautiful countryside. An underdog, immigrant town which is in the middle of one of the most beautiful areas of Britain,” the affluent Berkshires.
Mrs. Sidhu is an ideal snoop, he noted, “Because Indian aunties can always get secrets out very quickly. I was really excited because I come from writing comedy, and a murder mystery is just a wonderful thing for me.”
Mrs. Sidhu, a widow with a teenage son, is played by Meera Syal who was in the Pannu-scripted hit “The Kumars at No. 42.” Mrs. Sidhu may be delivering food to what’s often an unlikely crime scene but it is her intuitive knack for crime-solving which drives Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Burton (Craig Parkinson) crazy.
How does Pannu walk that line between Mrs. Sidhu’s endearing nosiness yet exasperating interference?
“A lot of that is Meera Syal — she’s added a voice into the writing as well. She’s really found the path to make this is a perfect fit for her.
“She is an auntie who has developed a great understanding of human nature. That’s the important kind of amateur detective we find quite clever. And she’s got food as well! Food is a big part of the show. Which gets her into interview situations, but also gives her a way of reaching across cultures to other people.”
Slightly eccentric, this Mrs. not only reaches across cultures but what about her habit of opening a cabinet door to talk to the dead? Which means her husband, a cop who died two years ago, and her late father as well.
“I’m from Sikh culture,” Pannu explained, comparing this to leaving flowers at a grave. “I think this is cross cultural. The idea of her talking to them, and particularly quizzing her dad who is a kind of a dead hero cop, is the comic end of the spectrum of what we’re doing.
“But isn’t all crime in some way communicating with the dead and trying to find out their secrets? I think it’s just touching and sweet that she talks to her dad this way.”