'Callan' star Edward Woodward was the original presenter of this light-hearted Thames panel game. Jon Pertwee inherited it following his retirement from 'Dr.Who' in 1974 ( "Welcome to Whodunnit!", he said, in the first show he did, "Or if you like 'Dr.Whodunnit'!" ). His relaxed, urbane manner made him particularly suited to the job.
Each week, a dramatised murder would be shown ( the title then burst onto the screen, accompanied by a nerve jangling theme tune, which included the sound of a gunshot ), and an invited panel of celebrities ( whose number included Wendy Craig, Terry Scott, Arthur Mullard, Lindsay Wagner, George Savalas, Jimmy Jewel, Norman Bowler and Jack Smethurst ) could request a replay of a particular moment, question the suspects ( only the killer was allowed to lie ), and from the answers deduce the identity of the killer. Tough guy actor Patrick Mower seemed particularly adept at this; perhaps he should have become a real-life sleuth! Lance Percival ( who co-wrote the mystery segments with Jeremy Lloyd ) cropped up occasionally as a bumbling 'Clouseau'-style French detective. Two of Pertwee's 'Dr.Who' co-stars - namely Nicholas 'Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart ' Courtney ( he had a particularly bizarre exit - poisoned by a dart placed in one of his dancing shoes! ) and Katy 'Jo Grant' Manning - made one-off appearances.
'Whodunnit' went out in the old 'Opportunity Knocks' slot of 6.45 on Monday evenings. Some of the murders were surprisingly well-plotted; you had to be observant to spot the clues. One episode ended with the revelation that no actual murder had taken place. The victim had committed suicide, but made his death appear like murder. As Pertwee asked the killer to identify himself, a door opened in the wings, and out walked the ghost of the corpse! A bizarre televisual moment to be sure, but then the show was full of them. Another murder took place on a sci-fi movie set. Putting his tongue in his cheek, Pertwee remarked: "In case you think, you've seen me here before, you haven't. I never visited this place on my travels!".
It was played for laughs, but was tremendous fun. I.T.V. made a similar series in the '90's - 'Cluedo', hosted by Chris Tarrant - but it was nowhere near as good. Having the same suspects each week quickly palled. L.W.T.'s 'End Of Part One' did a funny parody in which the host ( Fred Harris as Jon Pertwee ) was murdered during the opening moments of the show, leading to other hosts ( also playing Pertwee ) taking over.
11 out of 11 found this helpful