The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Season 1 Episode 0


Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Mar 23, 2008 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
48 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Precious Ramotswe sells her late father's cattle, and sets herself up as Botswana's only female detective. A musician ex-husband behind her, the traditional woman (in build and outlook) takes on the best the local typing college has to offer to aid her in solving cases including kidnapping.moreless

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  • Precious begins her life again after her father dies...

    This was a great pilot episode! Based on Alexander McCall Smith's novels about a female detective living in Botswana- the tv version I think is even better. The books contain a lot of descriptions about the country and what people's attitudes are like and has very little action in some of them - but the pilot episode is a condensed version of the books and I think it benefits from it.

    The lead actress portraying Precious is well cast as are the other supporting characters. And the pictures of the countryside and the towns and the people are just perfect to see. Very well done to all concerned.moreless
  • A great pilot episode. Minghella's superb direction, the excellent performances and overall high production values make for an experience that wouldn't be out of place in cinemas.

    This pilot had a strange path to appearing on our television screens. It is based on, and shares its title with, Alexander McCall Smith's excellent series of books. The pilot's director Anthony Minghella (who unfortunately passed away after filming this episode) was a fan of the series from the off. Indeed he has a praising quote on the back of my paperback copy of the first book. Minghella began to develop the project as a feature film but felt that its gentle pace and small scale storytelling would work better on television. Thankfully Harvey Weinstein agreed and the project also got funding from reliable TV developers in the BBC and HBO.

    Like the books the series is set in Botswana and Minghella took the bold step of filming on location - making this the first production filmed in Botswana. His decision pays off in the luscious and emmersive visuals that Minghella has captured and the sense of place this lends is essential to the feel of the pilot.

    The cast is well put together and neatly sidestep the adaptation pitfall of jarring too much with the mental images of them I had already developed. To be honest Jill Scott has surplanted whatever picture I had of the titular detective I had when I first enjoyed the books. Scott is a Grammy Award winning singer with less accomplishments in acting but I feel certain Emmy's are on her horizon having enjoyed her performance here. She is ably supported by Lucian Msamati as mechanic JLB Matekoni, Anika Noni Rose as prim and proper Mma Matsuki and Desmond Dube as BK who will all continue as part of the starring cast. The pilot also features enjoyable performances accomplished stage actors like John Kani and David Oyelowo as subjects in Mma Ramotswe's investigations. Idris Elba (The Wire's Stringer Bell) also features as a menacing antagonist.

    The adaptation is nimbly handled by accomplished screenwriter Richard Curtis and he manages to weave together only some of the elements from the first book without making omissions (or indeed additions like BK) glaringly obvious. The title sequence is a joy to behold, like many HBO series and along with the music quickly sets the tone of the piece. I thoroughly enjoyed this pilot episode and recall being suitably excited when the BBC broadcast in Easter 2008 was followed by the announcement of a continuing series. Overall I felt the production was of such high quality that I would not have been surprised to see it in cinemas as Minghella originally envisioned. Ultimately I am happy it aired on the small screen as it means we will be able to enjoy an ongoing series that will be a fitting tribute to Minghella's excellent work.moreless
  • The reason this episode was so special - albeit a pilot - was because of the genius of Anthony Minghella - it was filmed so beautifully it almost made you weep!moreless

    Having read every single book in this series I was worried how they would approach all the characters because after all if have become wrapped up in their lives - as you cannot fail to do if you love the books as much as I do - you will have your own visualisation as to how they all look and sound. I think that was the first thing that took my breath away - it was Precious - she actually looked and sounded exactly as I had imagined her; given the actress is not only American but also a singer before being an actress - her dialect was perfect as was her stance and costume. There is no doubt that Minghella perfect eye moulded this project and I just hope that whoever comes in to continue will take on board his genius with photography. I mean ... the heat of the desert almost leaps out of every page you read ... and that was the second breathtaking part of the episode ... you could almost feel the heat yourself with every beautiful shot that was filmed. It is probably one of the hardest things to do -- transposing such a popular book to the screen -- and they did not fail -- I honestly do not believe it could have been improved! I am so looking forward to the whole series. It was pure and magical escapism at its best!moreless
Idris Elba

Idris Elba

Charlie Gotso

Guest Star

Vusi Kunene

Vusi Kunene

Doctor Gulubane

Guest Star

Tumisho Masha

Tumisho Masha

Lucky Sesana

Guest Star

Thabo Malema

Thabo Malema

Apprentice 2

Recurring Role

Tau Maserumule

Tau Maserumule

Apprentice 1

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency Cases:
      • Case #1: Happy Bapetsi and the Dubious Daddy
      • Case #2: Alice Busang and the Question of a Cheating Husband
      • Case #3: Hector Lepodisi and the Fishy Fingers
      • Case #4: Charlie Kgotso's Missing "Item"

    • Mma Makutsi: At secretarial college, in history class, we were told of a former time, before computers, when typing was done on machines. And our country was called Bechuanaland and dinosaurs roamed the earth!

      The Republic of Botswana, which became independent from British rule in September 30, 1966, was formerly known as the Bechuanaland Protectorate, established on March 31, 1885. The personal computer have been in use since the 1970s.

    • The telephone number to call for missing persons, as shown on TV, is 089-2929. The details of the missing child Thabiso Moripedi are as follows: Male, 12 years old, Slim build, last seen Monday 9th July.

    • The message typed by Mma Makutsi for Mma Ramotswe at the end of the episode reads: "T ank you. I am ver y g ateful". Both typewriters are missing the letter H, and the one she used is missing the letter R.

    • The plate number on Mma Ramotswe's old white Datsun (missing a 'D') pickup, which was given to her by her father, is B-383-AHR.

    • The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency is located at Plot 105, Box 234, Kgale Hill Shopping Center, Gaborone, Botswana.

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Mma Ramotswe: There is no problem so great that it cannot be solved by a cup of bush tea.

    • Mma Makutsi: (reading from her report) The Case of Happy Bapetsi and the Dubious Daddy. No developments. No leads. No progress. Endless cups of bush tea.
      Mma Ramotswe: Excellent. Very accurate report.

    • Kremlin Busang: (after kissing Mma Ramotswe) I can't go home. I will die. I will die of passion. I will die of holding in all this passion.
      Mma Ramotswe: Good things come to those who wait.

    • (after Mma Ramotswe found out Daddy Bapetsi was an impostor)
      Daddy Bapetsi: What about my things? What about my laptop? My bluetooth? And what about my boom-boom box? My satellite dish?
      Mma Ramotswe: Get off with you. You are not a man. You are a worm, and worms have no possessions!

    • Hector Lepodise: Well, God sees us.
      BK: You think so? I think we're so tiny when God looks down at us. It's like the hair on your head. Millions of them. But God sees the whole haircut.

    • JLB Matekoni: I've never been able to lie. My tongue swells up. People always know.
      Mma Ramotswe: That is what I admire about you, Rra. But sometimes, a lie for a good reason is a good lie.

    • Mma Ramotswe: I will do anything you ask.
      JLB Matekoni: Is it? Would you perhaps marry me, then?
      Mma Ramotswe: Anything except that.

    • Mma Ramotswe: Secretary is free?
      Mma Makutsi: That is correct. My calculation, after these agency expenses, is that we have solved five cases for a net profit of exactly nothing. As long as you earn nothing, neither will I. But, when the Ladies' Detective Agency becomes the pride of Botswana, as it most surely will, then I will be the first to enjoy the fruits of our labours.

    • Mma Ramotswe: (voice-over) I learned many, many things from my father. To use my eyes. To use my ears. And my memory. He taught me to be patient. Most of all, he thought me to love my country Botswana.

    • Obed Ramotswe: (on his death bed) And make me a promise.
      Mma Ramotswe: Anything.
      Obed Ramotswe: If you marry another man, let him be kind this time. Bless you, my child. Bless you.

    • Mma Ramotswe: Every man I am meeting wants me to change something. I prefer to fix things myself.

    • Mma Ramotswe: In every bottle store, in every bar and market, behind every window, there are so many people who want to know the truth about some mystery in their lives. Some mystery they cannot solve themselves. That is what a detective is for. And that is what I will do.

    • Beautified Girl 1: A woman cannot be a detective.
      Beautified Girl 2: Why would you tell your problems to a woman?
      Beautified Girl 1: (pointing towards Mma Ramotswe's place) That place should be called 'The No Customer Detective Agency'.
      Beautified Girl 3: Have you seen the detective? She is the size of a small elephant. How could she go undercover? Imagine being followed undercover by an elephant.

    • BK: (to Mma Ramotswe) You know, the first two weeks when we got here, there was not even a single client. I had to cut my assistant's hair 20 times just to look busy. At the end, he was bald. But very cute. And finally, they came. They came. They came.

  • NOTES (9)

    • International Show Titles:
      Czech Republic: Vůně Kalahari (Scent of Kalahari)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      South Africa: August 3, 2009 on M-Net
      Czech Republic: February 9, 2010 on HBO

    • The producers signed a ten-year lease with the Botswana government for an area at the foot of Kgale Hill, the central setting of the film pilot/series where they created an entire shopping complex set. They have expressed the intent of letting the buildings stay even after the series ends and make the location a tourist attraction.

    • Jill Scott, who plays Precious Ramotswe, was cast two weeks prior to the start of production. Filming of the pilot began on July 9, 2007.

    • The set, designed by Johnny Breedt and located at the foot of Kgale Hill, simulates a real-life shopping center which has the following offices, shops, and stalls:
      • The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency
      • Last Chance Hair Salon
      • Bottle Store & Liquor Restaurant
      • Sorinyane Hi Tek Electronics
      • Sepadupa Spares and Repairs
      • Patels Comfort Store
      • Meat Great & Butchery
      • Kgale Post Office
      • Blue and Red General Dealer
      • car wash, Kwik Recharge cubicles, vegetable stalls, etc.

    • Featured Music:
      • "Botswana wa Tsabakela" (traditional) by The Mogwana Tradi
      • "Khutshanyana" (traditional) by Jill Scott, Ludo Mogegeh and the Cast
      • "Re Botswana" by Stampore
      • "Mmamoledi" by Maxy
      • "Ditshwanela" by Shanti' Lo
      • "Baby Ntsoare" by Various Artist
      • "Zwaka Presa" by Various Artist
      • "Ntyilo Ntyilo" (traditional) by Guy Barker Quintet
      • "Seponono" by Botswana Boys Top 10
      • "Lethale" by Vee

    • Harriet Lenabe (Mma Notshi) is credited as Harriet Manamela. Tau Maserumule (Apprentice 1) is credited as Tau Maseramula. Kgomotso Tshwenyego is credited as Kgomotso D. Tshwenyego.

    • As the final credits rolled during the first broadcast of this pilot, it was announced that a series had been commissioned for broadcast next year (2009).

    • At the end of the first broadcast of this pilot, it said "In memory of Anthony Minghella, 1954 - 2008".


    • Alice Busang: How dare you kiss my Kremlin. You thief! You Jezebel!

      Jezebel is described as a wicked, manipulative Phoenician queen in the Bible's book of Kings. The term Jezebel, connoting evil, scheming women, has also been used as titles of the 1938 film starring Bette Davis and the '50s hit by Frankie Laine.