What to Watch Next
Luther is distinct in the mystery show world for its (sometimes wickedly) clever heroes and its (even more wicked) villains. But if you’re looking for something else to watch with that same dark and deliciously evil vibe, here are a few suggestions from your local mystery geek.
The criminal psychology behind the hit show
As much as I love the singular performance of Idris Elba in Luther, I often find that the ‘villains’ wind up stealing my attention. I find myself wondering – what exactly would their diagnoses be in the real world? Luckily, local psychiatrist and Harvard faculty member Dr. Jeffrey Rediger weighed in on just what makes these criminals tick.
Jeffrey Rediger, MD, MDiv is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, and the Medical Director of McLean SE and Community Services at McLean Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. A fully licensed physician and a board-certified psychiatrist, he also has a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and publishes in the fields of medicine, psychiatry and spirituality. His research involves the investigation of remarkable recoveries from incurable or fatal illnesses. He has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz, and Anderson Cooper 360 shows, among others. To learn more about Dr. Rediger, visit his blog!
Wait, What Did He Say?
A handy encyclopedia for all your Brit Cop Questions
Confused about the difference between a PC and a DC? Wondering why Luther calls Teller Gov and Boss, and if there’s a difference? Trying to figure out why some of the officers wear different uniforms? Look no further:
PC vs DC: Ranks
In the UK, ranks from low to high are:
- Chief Inspector
- Chief Superintendent
All officers have the same ability to make an arrest, but higher ranking officers have more administrative responsibilities and powers. Most officers have “Police” as a prefix to their rank (for example, the officer shot in Episode 2 of Luther is Police Constable, or PC, Jenny Hanson). That said, most of the characters on the show are detectives in the Serious Crime Unit, so they have “Detective” as a prefix to their rank – for example, Luther is a Detective Chief Inspector, or DCI. Due to the nature of their work, detectives often wear plainclothes rather than uniforms, which is why you’ll see Luther and the others wearing coat and tie. Detectives are not higher ranking than uniformed officers, they just have a different skill set.
Who’s in Charge: Boss or Guv?
On Luther and other British television and movie exports you may hear officers call their superiors Boss, Guv, Sir or Ma’am (which can sometimes sound an awful lot like Mum to our American ears). What gives? All four terms are a way to show deference to your boss, and vary in usage based on region and community. Sir and Ma’am are more formal than Boss and Guv, and are thus used less often. Guv derives from Governor, and is more associated with male pronouns (though Luther does call Teller Guv) while Boss is considered completely gender-neutral.
Under the Gun: Why Luther Doesn’t Carry a Firearm
Unlike in the United States, England, Scotland and Wales don’t usually have their police officers carry firearms. Only specially trained officers, like tactical and SWAT teams, are authorized to carry guns. This policy has existed since the Metropolitan Police Service was founded, though it is an ongoing subject of debate. As detectives, none of the members of the Serious Crime Unit would carry guns.
What’s in a Name: Talk Like a PC
You’ll encounter a lot of police-issued slang while watching cop shows. Here are just a few of the words you may need to know.
Criminal Investigation Department (CID): the detective branch of the British Police.
Caution: a caution is an alternative to prosecution in minor cases. The offender must admit guilt and give consent to be cautioned.
Panda Car: a police car, so named because they used to feature large black and white panels.
Bobby: slang name for a police officer derived from the name of the founder of the Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Robert Peel.
Copper: slang name for a police officer, originally meaning someone who captures. First recorded in 1704 and derived from the Latin capere, it is the origin of the widely used term Cop.
The Met: Formally called the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the Met is the force responsible for policing Greater London.
Nick: a police station.
Nicked: to get arrested.
Police Community Support Officer (PCSO): civilian uniformed officers used for community patrolling, minor offenses and crowd control.