A second full series of Cluedo was broadcast in 1991. From this series onwards, every one of the six suspects would be the murderer once, and once only, and it would be the last time there was much of a change to the opening credits other than to show the new cast members. The Reverend Green’s poster now advertised the Grand Bazaar, and that remained unchanged in the further two series. They continued with what started in the Christmas special, with both teams being made up of two celebrities rather than a celebrity and a detective, which would also remain for the last two series.
This series was hosted by Chris Tarrant, who would later go on to say it was the worst show he ever did and that he hated making it as it took ages. It shows, he seems bored most of the time and spends an awful lot of time slating the show, commenting that the murder suspects are eliminated by default. It’s no surprise that this would be the only series he would do. Having a presenter who clearly dislikes the show makes it a bit vexing to watch occasionally, which is a shame really, as it has one of the best overall casts.
Professor Peter Plum (David McCallum) is here the standard stereotypical geek. This version of Professor Plum is one of the most uptight and socially awkward, and is a bit of a quack, as he says he got his professorship from a mail order catalogue.
Mrs. Elizabeth Peacock is once again a glamorous diva, and is here played by Rula Lenska. Much has been commented over the years on Rula Lenska’s massive permed hairdo. Her version of Mrs. Peacock is a bit more of a power dressing businesswoman than the others, and while most incarnations of Mrs. Peacock have been implied to be gold diggers, this version is by far the most open about it.
One of the most interesting members of the cast is Reverend Jonathan Green (Richard Wilson). This version is clearly deeply dodgy, and has no scruples whatsoever. He has no qualms about committing various sins, such as gambling, insurance fraud and promiscuity. He is such a sinister minister, in many episodes he was usually one of the first the contestants accused.
Mollie Sugden is also good as the housekeeper Mrs. Blanche White, and actually comes across as quite sympathetic in the episode where she is the murderer, ‘A Deadly Deal’. She kills investment broker Simon Charles. He’d ripped all six of the regulars off in a deal, but Mrs. White had put her life savings into it, and when she pleaded with him for it back he laughed at her saying he couldn’t be bothered with such a “piddling little amount”. Mrs. White is close to tears when she says “that piddling little amount was all I had in the world”. That said, even when she isn’t the murderer she’s no innocent, stealing quite a lot of the best china and silverware from Arlington Grange.
Miss Vivienne Scarlett (Koo Stark) is a posh ice queen, all red nail varnish and dresses, and of course flirting with lots of men. She has a slightly vampire-like quality to her, which is fitting. Colonel Michael Mustard (Michael Jayston) is quietly pompous, wears his army uniform often, and is always jumping from side to side over the fine line between suave and smarmy.
This series is a bit more like a soap opera than the others. Indeed a standout episode is ‘Fatal Distraction’ where the murder victim is a soap actress named Marie Anne Kray, played by Sharon Maughan, who manages to chew more scenery than anyone else. She’s a drunken demanding diva who tries to come on to the men in the house and has a bitching exchange with Mrs. Peacock (she says to her “If you’re not careful you’re going to need another face lift!”). She is last seen weeping over some cut-up photographs. She’s the sort of character that outside of soap operas (and TV shows such as this) would come across as completely insane.
The best episode though, like series one, is the finale. ‘The Bolivian Connection’ sees Mr. Jack Peacock return from the dead just as Mrs. Peacock is about to marry Colonel Mustard. Jack had gone missing in Bolivia as part of a research team Professor Plum sent to find a miracle drug that would cure the common cold. As it turned out, the drug had been smuggled into the UK long ago, in the funeral urn that was said to contain Jack Peacock’s ashes. Upon discovering this, Professor Plum killed Jack with his own funeral urn, but it turned out that the “wonder drug” was just ground up asparin.
This episode was also something of a preview for series three, as Jack Peacock was played by Lewis Collins, who would be Colonel Mustard in the next series. One of the contestants was Richard Madely (along with Judy Finegan), and he would be the presenter of series 3 and 4.
I’d say this was one of the best series of Cluedo. It had the cast where everyone was reasonably good (in all the other series, the cast was uneven, some were good, some weren’t), and probably had the most coherent tone for the series. So while Chris Tarrant might not have liked making this series, I think its one of the most enjoyable to watch.
Edit – 16th June 2016. Clement Freud appeared in this series, and had been considered a memorable contestant for how he played the game, but that seems very insignificant now, after revelations of terrible crimes he has been accused of committing in real life.