'Dalgliesh' fans impressed with Bertie Carvel's 'outstanding' take on sleuth

Bertie Carvel in Dalgliesh
(Image credit: Channel 5)

Dalgliesh has kicked off on Channel 5 bringing a brand new take on the classic P.D. James character to our screens. 

The role was originally played by Roy Marsden in the ITV dramatisations of the novels, while Martin Shaw also took on the character, and now Bertie Carvel has taken on the role.

Talking about playing the character, lead actor Bertie told us: "I hadn't read the books before the project so I came to it fresh. I had a good feeling about it. It's a period drama, but also a character study. What he's going through in his life, he's processing through the lens of his police work and his poetry."

He adds: "P.D. James describes him as having a 'splinter of ice' in his heart. I think of him like a hawk. There's a ruthless detachment, a determination to come to the truth in him and a commitment to justice. As an observer of human nature, Dalgliesh is also someone with deep emotional intelligence, sensitivity and a well of compassion."

The first episode is an adaptation of the novel Shroud For A Nightingale, where Dalgliesh is brought in to investigate the death of a student at Nightingale House, a place where young women are taught how to care for the sick.

Throughout the episode, Dalgliesh has to figure out what happened to the young nurse, who suffered a rather grisly demise by having a long pipe fed down her throat containing poison. Viewers were definitely impressed by the new take on the character, heading to Twitter to share their thoughts.

One fan wrote: "Watching the new #Dalgliesh. Really like Bertie Carvel. I remember the PD James novels from years ago when I was really young with Roy Marsden in the lead, mainly b/c of the haunting theme music. That just doesn’t happen nowadays. Themes aren’t what they used to be in the 80s/90s"

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Another added: "#Dalgliesh is quality TV. An outstanding performance by Bertie Carvel, as perfect in its own way as Michael Kitchen or Roger Allam. PD James would have been so proud tonight."

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A third said: "We’re already hooked on #Dalgliesh absolutely gripping 1st episode & perfectly cast"

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And a fourth wrote: "Remember the old #Dalgliesh at ITV with Roy Marsden. This new adaptation with Bertie Carvel is a more than a worthy successor. Perfectly cast."

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Dalgliesh continues on Channel 5 on Friday 5 Nov., concluding the first two-part episode. US viewers can watch it on Acorn TV.

Lucy Buglass
Senior Staff Writer

Lucy joined the WhatToWatch.com team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes, reviews and the latest TV news. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.


She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story, Stranger Things and Black Mirror but she is also partial to a quiz show or a bit of Say Yes to the Dress