As you might imagine, new crime series Whitstable Pearl has the picturesque coastal town of Whitstable in Kent as its backdrop. While Whitstable might seem like a quiet, pretty place to live by the sea, under the surface there are all manner of grisly crimes unfolding. In fact, it’s just the place for a detective agency!
Big-hearted local celebrity Pearl Nolan, played by Kerry Godliman, is celebrated in her hometown for her restaurant The Whitstable Pearl. But what many of her customers and neighbours don’t realise is she’s a frustrated sleuth at heart, especially since her police career was cut short many years earlier.
So when Pearl discovers the body of her close family friend, Vinnie tangled up in his boat’s anchor, she suspects foul play and embarks on some detective work of her own. Then a second body turns up and she finds herself embroiled in the dark underbelly of her hometown, Whitstable in Kent. She soon decides it’s high time the town had its own detective agency and teams up with new arrival DCI Mike McGuire to put her long-since dusted-off police skills to use. At first she's unimpressed with DFL (Down From London) chief inspector McGuire’s investigation. however, which leads to grumbles and clashes…
Whitstable Pearl is coming to Acorn TV soon, so here's our guide to everything we know so far about the show....
Whitstable Pearl release date...
Whitstable Pearl launched on Acorn TV in the UK and the US on Monday May 24, with the first two episodes available. Then subsequent episodes are released weekly before all six episodes are available as a box set. To sign up for Acorn, visit www.acorn.tv or download the Acorn TV app on your favourite device to start your 30 day free trial. You can also get Whitstable Pearl through Acorn TV on Amazon Prime (for extra charge).
Is there a trailer for Whitstable Pearl?
Yes! Acorn TV have released a trailer for Whitstable Pearl, and here it is below!
'Are you a fan of Whitstable Mr Maguire?' asks Pearl... 'I'm not a fan of small towns,' he replies. 'It means you have to talk to people!'.
Yes there's plenty of humour in this drama, which we should probably expect given Kerry Godliman's comedy pedigree. We love the look of Pearl's restaurant by the sea too! Bet it serves up some nice oysters!
Whitstable Pearl cast — Kerry Godliman on playing Pearl Nolan…
Whitstable Pearl restaurant owner Pearl Nolan always wanted to be a detective but then life, and a teenage pregnancy, scuppered her dreams. Instead she built up a successful seafood restaurant in her hometown of Whitstable, who she runs with her son Charlie and waitress Ruby, but she could never quite bury her desire for policing.
Pearl is played by Kerry Godliman, who's best known for her role as Lisa, the deceased wife of Tony Johnson (Ricky Gervais) in the hit Netflix comedy After Life. She also starred in crime drama Save Me, plus comedies Derek and Carters Get Rich. Alongside her acting roles, Kerry is a successful comedian and as well as performing stand-up has appeared on numerous panel shows such as Mock The Week and Taskmaster.
Kerry did an exclusive interview with our writer Elaine Reilly: ‘Pearl’s original ambition was to be a detective, but she gave up that career when she was young because she got pregnant,’ explained Kerry, 47. ‘Her teenage son Charlie (Rohan Nedd) is now coming up to leaving home. So, out of the sense of a new beginning, she's gone back to sleuthing. But she’s not a cop. Her hobby just happens to be finding dead bodies and poking her nose into things!
'There is humour in Whitstable Peal, but it isn’t overly earnest, and I love a whodunnit.'
Currently filming the third and final series of After Life for Netflix alongside Ricky Gervais, Kerry credits the sitcom for her landing the lead in Whitstable Pearl.
‘I don’t reckon I’d have got Whitstable Pearl if not for After Life,’ says Kerry. ‘It was such a pleasant surprise. I’d never played a lead before, but I’ve loved it.
'Filming of After Life is going good. I can’t give much away but there’s no plot twist… My character is still dead! The other day I met this bloke who said After Life was the reason he’d cried for the first time in years. I think Ricky has given a lot of people a key to emote. It’s extraordinary, really. And being attached to something as big as After Life is extraordinary.'
Whitstable Pearl cast — Howard Charles as DCI Mike McGuire...
DCI Mike McGuire is a new arrival to Whitstable and finds himself in competition with Pearl to solve the two murders. He’s played by Howard Charles, who played Porthos du Vallon in BBC1 series The Musketeers (currently on BBCiPlayer) More recently he’s appeared in The Red Line, The Widow, Liar and Amazon Prime series Alex Rider.
‘With Mike and Pearl there’s an attraction but it’s against both their better judgements. They argue, clash and resist it. For him it’s a real pain in the ass that he’s met and fancies her!’ laughs Kerry. 'Howard and I made a real effort to pace it and drip in warmth. It’s not a linear romance.'
Howard Charles says: 'Mike is an outsider. A man wracked with guilt, plagued by an event – the death of his wife – in the not too distant past. He's lost connection with the vibrancy of life and is just a functioning widower and a good detective who is running on empty. He is transferred from a major crimes unit in London’s MET police to an English seaside town (Whitstable) where he can effectively do no harm. He meets Pearl Nolan, a local restaurateur and private detective. Pearl and McGuire relight something in one another. They have a lot in common:— they know the ship named ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ has well and truly sailed. They’ve both loved and lost. Neither is fulfilled. They’re both hurting. They are both guarded. Initially, there is conflict between them, however, as time passes, they grow to respect one another and begin to enjoy each other’s company, which opens up new avenues of possibility...and conflict.'
Whitstable Pearl cast — Frances Barber as Dolly...
Dolly is Pearl’s eccentric and political activist mother and played by Francis Barber who you’ll recognise from her roles as eye-patched baddie Madame Kovarian in Doctor Who, Caroline Warwick QC in Silk, plus Beautiful People and Mr Holmes. She also played teacher Alfie’s mum in Jack Whitehall’s school comedy Bad Education.
'Dolly is a big personality!' Kerry Godliman told our writer Elaine. 'I love when she talks about all her protests. She reminds me of my mum. When I was a kid mum took me to Greenham Common and other demonstrations. I try to keep that going with my daughter. It was a real honour to work with Frances, and Dolly is a great character. It’s really lovely to see a woman of that generation being celebrated. By episode six we find out a lot more about Dolly!'
Frances Barber says: 'I don’t want to give too much away, because it's a mystery and the MacGuffin runs all the way through the six episodes. But Dolly is larger than life. She's still on Tinder at her tender age. Whereas her daughter Pearl is rather strait-laced, and Dolly appears to be rather frivolous and a little bit out there, an old hippie really. But she features very heavily in the story-within-a-story, as the episodes unravel themselves, so she might come across as a little shallow at first, but actually you then realize she's been covering something up all the way through, as have most people in the series.'
Whitstable Pearl cast — Rohan Nedd as Charlie...
Rohan Nedd plays Pearl's son Charlie who helps her run the family's restaurant. Rohan's biggest role to date was playing Mike in the 2018 Netflix drama Safe, alongside Michael C Hall, Amanda Abbington, Marc Warren and Freddie Thorp. He's also had smaller parts in Doctor Who and Midsomer Murders.
Whitstable Pearl cast — who else is starring?
Sophia Del Pizzo plays DS Nikki Martel who'll become a key acquaintance of Pearl's on the local Kent police force. Sophia is an English born actress and comedian who now lives in Los Angeles and is known for her roles in Angel Has Fallen and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Also look out for Cathy Tyson (Band of Gold, Mona Lisa) who appears in a couple of episodes as a local character called Tina Rowe.
The Whitstable Pearl locations and filming...
Whitstable is a gorgeous 16th century seaside resort in Kent, known for its native oysters. However the series deals with the friction between the Whitstable locals and the wealthy city dwellers who have moved in and tried to gentrify the traditional town. While much of the location filming is in and around Whitstable itself, there have also been outdoor scenes filmed at Ramsgate harbour, Margate and Cliftonville.
'Most filming was on location, but Pearl’s restaurant is a beautifully designed set,' reveals Kerry Godliman. 'A proper chef coached us on knife skills, to look like we know what we’re doing and don’t chop our digits off!
'In episode one there’s a fight in the sea. A double did all the water stuff, but because it’s hard to cut between shots, when I did it I basically did everything the double did. It was absolutely freezing but really exciting because it felt like a proper action scene.
'I really loved filming in Whitstable. I’m in South London and it’s quicker for me to get to Whitstable than to my mum and dad in North London! I’d been to Whitstable for day trips before, but didn’t know it very well. I really grew to love it and by the end I was on Rightmove every day!'
Frances Barber says: 'I've been to Whitstable several times — I filmed here many years ago for a short film. But I've been here lots of times to have oysters, of course. It's a gorgeous place. I mean, it just feels so lovely, as a Londoner to be by the sea. So, I couldn't be happier that we're filming here.'
Whitstable Pearl episode guide...
Here's a brief guide to all six episodes of Whitstable Pearl...
Whitstable Pearl 1.01: The Free Waters
Restaurant owner Pearl Nolan discovers the body of her friend and oyster supplier chained to the anchor of his ship. The police, led by out-of-towner Chief Inspector Mike McGuire, believe it was an accident, but Pearl, who also runs a private detective agency, suspects foul play.
Whitstable Pearl 1.02: Random Acts
Working with local cop DS Nikki Martel (Sophia Del Pizzo), Mike investigates the death of a diabetic estate agent force-fed marmalade. When a woman hires Pearl to look into a large sum of cash left in her mailbox, Pearl discovers Whitstable may have a mysterious benefactor—but are they connected to the murder?
Whitstable Pearl 1.03: Civil War
When a recently retired DCI is shot dead during an English Civil War reenactment, Mike immediately suspects the victim’s wife, but she hires Pearl to find out if someone could be targeting her, too. Pearl and Mike plan a date, but a miscommunication puts them at odds.
Whitstable Pearl 1.04: Disappearance at Oare
Pearl agrees to help a woman who received a note claiming her missing husband did not die from suicide. Pearl connects the case to a grief-counselling church group and a drowning years ago. As Christmas approaches, Mike sinks into a depression, despite taking on a new flat in Whitstable.
Whitstable Pearl 1.05: A Cup O’ Kindness
When a mother takes her daughter out for a boat ride despite the father’s wishes, the boat starts taking on water and the two need to be rescued. Was it an accident, or were they targeted? Pearl investigates while Mike tries to enjoy his time off from police duty in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve.
Whitstable Pearl 1.06: The Man on The Blue Plaque
A 30-year-old skeleton washes up on the shore, and the victim has a very personal connection to Pearl. Pearl’s budding romance with Mike is threatened when he identifies a suspect close to home.
Whitstable Pearl — behind the scenes trailer
A fantastic behind the scenes trailer for Whitstable Pearl has just been released featuring some great insights from Whitstable Pearl author Julie Wassmer, plus main cast Kerry Godliman, Frances Barber and Howard Charles.
The Whitstable Pearl novels…
The TV series Whitstable Pearl is based on the best-selling novels The Whitstable Pearl Mystery and Disappearance at Oare by Julie Wassmer. Before releasing her autobiography More Than Just Coincidence, which tells how 20 years earlier a twist of fate reunited her with the daughter she’d given up for adoption when she was a teenager, Julie was a celebrated television drama writer. She worked on hit TV series such as London’s Burning and Family Affairs plus wrote EastEnders for 20 years.
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