Miss Scarlet and the Duke

Thrown onto her own, Eliza goes to work as a private detective to get out of debt. Luckily, a family friend known as the Duke is a cop willing to help. Shown from left to right: Kate Phillips as Eliza Scarlet and Stuart Martin as William Wellington 

The time is the 19th century when women were supposed to stay home and take care of their families. Eliza Scarlet has different ideas.

In “Miss Scarlet and the Duke” Kate Phillips stars as a feisty and clever woman intent on following in her father’s footsteps when he is killed. He was a well-respected private investigator and she is filling his shoes.

Stuart Martin plays William “The Duke” Wellington, a Detective Inspector at Scotland Yard and family friend. He had respect for her father but in the beginning is frustrated with Eliza’s sleuthing. Then she wins him over and they become a great team. And, as one might expect, their collaboration could lead to a more romantic involvement.

Eliza is a new-age woman in the 19th century. She knows she can do the job as well as or even better than a man, and has to prove it, which she does with flair. Her father Henry (Kevin Doyle) taught her well throughout her life. He mentored her. You could compare them to Yentl and her father in the 1983 film of the same name, and even to Belle and her father in “Beauty and the Beast.” Fathers see more in their daughters than what society expects of women. They want their daughters to be the best they can be and follow their dreams. And that is what Henry wanted for Eliza.

Eliza does not bend to society. On the contrary, she bends traditional roles of women. She is cunning, witty and knowledgeable. And Eliza, together with The Duke, can get to the bottom of the mystery that awaits them.

Ansu Kabia is Moses, who helps the team in the gritty world of the London underworld. What happened to her father? Why was he killed? What was he working on? That is the mystery that awaits Eliza as she becomes the first female private investigator.

This six-part series premiered earlier this week on PBS’ Masterpiece, with all six episodes available to stream on PBS Passport.