Miles Kington: In which Inspector Braid discovers that TV has its uses

All fictional policemen have to have sidekicks. They have to talk to them so that the viewer can listen and know what's happening
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The Independent Online

Time for a "Sixty Second Sleuth" story. Inspector Kenneth Braid is so called because he solves all mysteries in one minute flat. This one is called "Move Over, Lewis".

"Did you see Lewis the other night, sir?" said Sergeant Comfort.

"Lewis who?" said Inspector Braid.

"The TV programme, I mean?"

"You know I don't watch TV, Comfort," said Braid. "I depend on you for that. That is what a sidekick is for. So, tell me about Lewis."

"Well, sir, it's a police drama. It used to be called Inspector Morse because it featured a very popular detective called Morse but he was recently killed off. People thought that was the end of the series, but Morse's sidekick Lewis has now been promoted and given his own series. Which is called Lewis."

"The solution seems pretty plain to me," said Braid. "Lewis is the murderer. He killed off Morse because he was jealous, and wanted to take over his job."

"No, sir, that can't be true," said Comfort. "When I say that Morse was killed off, he wasn't actually killed. It was the part of Morse that was killed off. And that was because the actor playing Morse died in real life."

"Then the solution seems even plainer to me," said Braid. "The actor playing Lewis killed off the actor playing Morse, so that he could get a bigger role."

"Without going into the reasons, sir," said Comfort, "I think you'll find that'd be impossible."

"You don't think it's possible for a sidekick to kill the top dog?" said Braid. "Or a support actor to kill the star? Have you never wished to kill me?"

"No, sir," said Comfort.

"Then you are the first subordinate in history to whom it has not occurred."

There was silence in which Comfort could think of nothing to say.

"And how is the TV cop making out" said Braid, "in the absence of his old boss?"

"Very well," said Comfort. "We think he is going to move out of his shadows and be his own man."

"But Lewis too now has a sidekick of his own, does he not ?"

"Yes," said Comfort, surprised. "How did you know that?"

"All fictional policemen have to have sidekicks," said Braid. "They have to talk to them so that the viewer can listen to them and know what's happening. Holmes had Watson and Poirot had Hastings."

"I don't recall Watson wanting to kill Holmes, sir," said Comfort.

"Perhaps not," said Braid. "On the other hand, I have never met anyone who would not willingly have throttled Hercule Poirot. And Holmes did behave insufferably to Watson a lot of the time, as if he were an idiot."

Comfort said nothing, but concentrated on the road ahead.

"I've quite forgotten where we are going," said Braid, "so absorbing was our conversation. Where are we off to, sidekick?"

"We are going to visit the well-known comedian, Mr Roy Hudd, who was abducted yesterday."

"Of course. Remind me how we know where he is, if he has been abducted."

"He was returned unharmed this morning. The file is up there on the dashboard."

Braid opened the file. Within 10 seconds he was chuckling.

"Something funny, sir?"

"Yes, Comfort. Very funny. I think I have solved the mystery."

"Sir?"

"The picture of Mr Hudd. I had not seen his face before. I took him for someone quite different. He is the spitting image of Alfred Brendel."

"Sir?"

"Famous pianist. Especially this year, as he is a Mozart specialist. You've heard of Mozart?"

"Yes, sir"

"It's quite clear what happened. They thought they had kidnapped Brendel. Enormous ransom in sight. They got Hudd instead. No use to them. No ransom. Or perhaps he told them endless showbiz stories until they could no longer stand it. So they returned him. Turn round the car, Comfort. We are going to find Mr Brendel instead, and put him on his guard."

Another Sixty Second Sleuth story soon!

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