The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a British-American television drama series produced by the BBC in conjunction with HBO and based on the novels of the same name by Alexander McCall Smith, which focuses on the story of a detective agency opened by Mma Ramotswe to help townspeople solve mysteries in their lives.
The series was filmed on location in Botswana and was the first major film or television production to be undertaken in the country.
The programme began with a feature-length pilot episode on 23 March, 2008. Executive producer Anthony Minghella directed the episode and co-wrote the adaptation with fellow executive producer Richard Curtis. A six-episode series premiered in the UK on 15 March, 2009.
The series premiered in South Africa on M-Net on Monday 3 August 2009, at 21h30. It later aired on DStv's M-Net Series and Mzansi Magic channels and on TopTV's Top One channel. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency premiered on Mzansi Magic on Wednesday 18 January 2012, at 20h00. New episodes broadcast weekly. There are 7 episodes in one season, including a feature length pilot.
The first major film/TV project to be shot entirely on location in Botswana, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is based on the best-selling novels by Alexander McCall Smith and co-written and executive produced by Richard Curtis and the late Anthony Minghella.
Like McCall's novels, the series chronicles the adventures of Precious Ramotswe (Jill Scott), the cheerful, eminently sensible proprietor of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, located in the Kgale Hill Shopping Center on the outskirts of Gaborone.
As a young girl growing up in the African nation of Botswana, Precious Ramotswe was encouraged by her father to follow her dreams, no matter what.
When Precious was a little girl, she spent her days with her father in the wilds of Botswana, learning to use her eyes, her ears, her memory and her patience to solve any mysteries surrounding her.
Years later, after her beloved father dies, Precious inherits his 180 cows – a windfall that draws the interest of her abusive ex-husband, Note (a trumpet player) and conniving lawyer Lucky.
Now in her mid-30s, Precious is embarking on an almost improbable career that utilises the unique gifts of inquisition and intuition she learned earlier in life to benefit those who need help the most.
Aided by her efficient yet high-strung secretary Grace Makutsi (Anika Noni Rose), Precious investigates a variety of cases, helping townspeople solve mysteries in their lives, from dubious fathers to missing children, philandering husbands and con-artist scams.
She also begins a special friendship with a widowed suitor, JLB Matekoni (Lucian Msamati), the owner of a local garage.
Precious Ramotswe exemplifies the courageous efforts by real-life Africans to improve the quality of their lives while preserving their culture.
Though Precious brings a playful, even innocent, exuberance to her job, the "mysteries" she investigates are quite serious, and include child kidnapping, poverty, organised crime, health crises, spousal abandonment and infidelity — ongoing problems that confront many Africans (and Americans) today.
In the lead role of Precious Ramotswe is R&B singer/songwriter Jill Scott. Other regulars include Anika Noni Rose as Precious’ quirky secretary Grace, Lucian Msamati as her devoted suitor JLB and South African comedian Desmond Dube as her neighbour BK, a flamboyant hairdresser.
There are several appearances by other South African actors including Tumisho Masha (who plays conniving lawyer Lucky Sisane), John Kani, Brenda Ngxoli, Kenneth Nkosi, Jerry Mofokeng, Mary Twala, Moshidi Motshegwa and Keketso Semoko.
The pilot (which debuted on the BBC in 2008) is the last film directed by Anthony Minghella, who co-wrote its script with Richard Curtis. The pilot was produced by the late Sydney Pollack, Timothy Bricknell and Amy J. Moore.
The series is a collaboration of the BBC, HBO Entertainment and The Weinstein Company in association with Mirage Enterprises and Cinechicks.
There are 7 episodes in one season, including a feature length pilot.
Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 3 Aug 2009 | Finale: 24 Aug 2009 | Mondays, 21h30
Channel: M-Net Series | Premiere: 4 Nov 2009 | Finale: 23 Dec 2009 | Wednesdays, 20h00
Channel: Top One | Premiere: 19 Apr 2011 | Finale: 31 May 2011 | Tuesdays, 21h00
Channel: Mzansi Magic | Premiere: 18 Jan 2012 | Finale: 29 Feb 2012 | Wednesdays, 20h00