'Miss Scarlet and the Duke' Looks Like the Feminist Period Mystery We've Been Waiting For

Kate Phillips and Stuart Martin in "Miss Scarlet and the Duke" (Photo: A&E International)
Kate Phillips and Stuart Martin in "Miss Scarlet and the Duke" (Photo: A&E International) 

The first trailer for the upcoming Masterpiece period mystery series Miss Scarlet and the Duke is here, and it's everything we could have wanted it to be.

The series follows the story of one Miss Eliza Scarlet, the first female private detective in Victorian London. When her father dies, he leaves her penniless in a time when the only real option open to a woman looking for financial security was to get married. Smart, ambitious, and more than a little headstrong, Eliza has little interest in a limited life as someone's wife, so she turns to her father's business - a detective agency. Having watched him solve crimes for years, she's determined to establish herself as a legitimate businesswoman in an industry and a larger society that views her as an unnatural joke. 

Unfortunately, with the patriarchy being what it is, she's not going to be able to do that on her own. Enter her potential partner - as well as a childhood friend and maybe sort of potential love interest, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector William Wellington, generally known as The Duke. A drinker, gambler and womanizer in his own right, Miss Scarlet and the Duke seem like the most ill-fitting of odd couples. But, of course, they'll figure things out. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a show.

Star Kate Phillips is probably most familiar to Americans for her role as Linda Shelby on Peaky Blinders, but she has also appeared in such familiar production as The CrownWolf Hall, and the Downton Abbey movie. Stuart Martin recently played Silas Sharrow in the PBS period drama Jamestown, and also starred as Cosimo de Medici's brother Lorenzo in the first season of the Netflix drama known as Medici: Masters of Florence

The series also stars Downton's Kevin Doyle as Eliza's late father Henry, World on Fire's Ansu Kabia as Moses, a well-known but often useful criminal from Jamaica, and Carnival Row's Andrew Gower as Rupert Parker, Eliza's friend who helps launch her detective agency.  

Watch the trailer for yourselves below.

The snappy dialogue and crackling chemistry between the two leads already make this look like something very different from your average procedural mystery series, and the myriad of gender and social issues that Miss Scarlet and her partner will have to face are such that there is tons of story to be mined here, outside of the murders that are bound to pop up. 

The six-part first season arrives on PBS beginning Sunday, January 17.

Are you excited for Miss Scarlet and the Duke? Why or why not? Let's discuss in the comments.