British Crime Series

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Jim Daems
contact email: 

CFP—British Crime Series


I am seeking chapter proposals for an edited collection on British television crime series. British crime / detective television series are a significant cultural export and have spawned international adaptations. Originally available primarily on public broadcasting stations for North American audiences (giving them a sort of high-brow standing in contrast to their American counterparts), they now form a significant number of programs on Netflix (produced not only by the BBC and ITV, but also in collaboration with Netflix).


These series range from familiar standbys period pieces such as Agatha Christie’s Poirot and the contemporary updating of Sherlock, to cold case series with strong forensics elements and hybrid mixes of the detective / crime genre with, for example, science fiction (Life on Mars) and gothic elements (Whitechapel). In British Television Drama: A History, Lez Cooke states that crime dramas not only “reflect” social concerns about crime in any given decade, but that they also contribute “to the formation of ideas about, and attitudes towards, law and order.” Discussing the popularity of period pieces in general, Cooke adds that current political and social crises prompt “a longing to return to the past and to more apparently settled times.” These points broadly establish the parameters of this collection: how do crime series reflect and contribute to perceptions of law and order? In terms of our focus on specifically British series, how does this relate to a North American context? Why are British crime series, in their varied manifestations, so popular internationally? Ironically, how can a British period piece crime series be reassuring in the presence of much wider geo-political crises?


Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:


American adaptations of British series: Broadchurch / Gracepoint and Life on Mars


British adaptations of crime series: Wallander


Gender: the female detective (Prime Suspect, Scott and Bailey, or Vera), the female criminal, the female victim of crime, female and male detective / police partnerships (Vexed, Shetland, or Death in Paradise).


Queer characters as detectives, criminals, or victims (New Tricks, Frost, Morse)


Crime drama as period-piece: Poirot, Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes, or George Gently


Representations of violence from the relatively gentile country house murder to the macabre (Poirot, Miss Marple, Midsomer Murders, Whitechapel, Lewis)


The crime series’ engagement with social issues: racism, sexism, Islamophobia, LGBT, police corruption, substance abuse, the sex trade, human trafficking, or the refugee crisis (Waking the Dead, Line of Duty, Collateral, Hinterland).


Genre hybridity: crime series and soap opera (Heartbeat) or science fiction (Life on Mars)


The crime series and “Britishness”


Race and ethnicity in crime series (Waking the Dead, Line of Duty, Death in Paradise, Lewis)


The topics suggested above could focus on either one episode as being characteristic of a particular series, shifts in portrayals of a topic through a long-running series, or comparison-contrasts of different series.


McFarland has expressed interest in publishing the collection.


Please send a 500-word proposal to Jim Daems ( by September 30, along with a short CV. Contributors will be notified by October 15, and their completed articles will be due on February 28, 2019.