Mark Gatiss Will Play a Bookshop Owner Who Solves Crimes in Alibi Drama 'Bookish'

Mark Gatiss in "Sherlock" Season 4

Mark Gatiss in "Sherlock" Season 4

(Photo: Laurence Cendrowicz/Hartswood Films & MASTERPIECE)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that in the world of British drama, you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to solve crime. No, really; in many of the U.K.'s popular dramas, you don't need to be trained as a detective or honestly have done much more than watch a few episodes of Law & Order before you can just jump right into chasing murderers in your spare time. Move over, Miss Marple. If little old ladies can solve murders, so can the rest of us.

Do you regularly read stories about a variety of crimes? You're covered. (Magpie Murders.) Talk about sins in your sermons? Good enough. (Grantchester.) Are you a priest or a nun? God's work is truly never done. (Father Brown and Sister Boniface Mysteries.) Do you like to cook? Even criminals have to eat! (Whitstable Pearl). What I'm saying is that, truly, the only remarkable thing about the upcoming series Bookish, which will follow the story of a bookshop owner who also solves crimes, is that it doesn't appear as though anyone's done it yet.

The series hails from Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, who is also writing and starring in the six-part drama. Set in post-war London in 1946, Bookish follows the story of Gabriel Book, an antiquarian bookstore's unconventional and erudite owner, who uses the thousands of books at his fingertips to help the police solve various cases. (Why he's allowed to do this is something the show will likely never address in any real way, so let's just go with it.)

Bridgerton's Polly Walker stars alongside Gatiss as Book's charismatic wife, Trottie. The owner of the wallpaper shop next door loves her husband dearly but understands that theirs is not a physical relationship. (They have what is called a "lavender marriage," meant to help conceal Book's sexual orientation in a time when it was illegal to be gay.)

Bookish will feature guest stars Joely Richardson (Renegade Nell), Daniel Mays (The Long Shadow), and Jonas Nay (Line of Separation). Other cast members in regular recurring roles include Connor Finch (Everything I Know About Love), Elliot Levey (We Were the Lucky Ones), and Buket Kömür (Our House). 

"UKTV is the home for writers' passion projects, and we are so proud to be working with the exceptionally talented Mark Gatiss on his, along with the effervescent team at Eagle Eye," Helen Perry, the Head of Drama for UKTV said in a statement. "Mark's unique detective thriller is full of wit and heart, with a central platonic love story that is sure to enthrall audiences. And because Book is a gay man, at a time when it was illegal to be so, we are proud that the drama shines a light on an important LGBTQ+ story. The star-studded cast Eagle Eye have already put together is a tribute to the sure-fire hit Bookish is to become."

The six-episode run will feature three distinct cases, each spread over two 70-minute installments, co-written by Matthew Sweet, directed by Carolina Giammetta, and produced by Christopher Arcache. Eagle Eye Drama, for those who don't recognize the name, is Jo McGrath and Walter Iuzzolino, aka Walter & Friends from PBS Passport's Walter Presents, who are also behind PBS series like the English-language remake Professor T and originals like Hotel Portofino.   

Bookish doesn't have a release date, but Alibi appears to be aiming for a 2025 release date. As for an American distributor, between Eagle Eye's relationship with PBS and Alibi's relationship with Masterpiece, this seems destined for public television. I mean, is there anything more PBS than a show where an antiquarian bookshop owner also solves crimes? I think not.

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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