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You have probably heard of precisely two works set in Botswana. The Gods Must Be Crazy and this.

Series of eleven (so far) books, written by Alexander McCall Smith, involving Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's first female detective and therefore number one.

The books have been adapted for TV, with the two-hour pilot in Easter 2008, followed by a six-part series in 2009, based on all ten books. The books were originally going to be filmed in South Africa, but Botswana's government, realising the tourism that would come its way, offered The BBC $5 million to film there instead. So they did.

The pilot was the last work of director Anthony Minghella before his death in 2008.

There has also been a radio adaptation.


This book series and the TV adaptations contain examples of:

  • Antiquated Linguistics: verging on Spock Speak, it seems that everyone in Botswana speaks stitled, formal, old-fashioned and rather pompous English. Truth in Television, by most accounts.
  • Ascended Extra: Cephas Buthulezi is only around for a few scenes in one book. He is shifty but never really causes any trouble. In the television series, he is present in two episodes and is nothing short of malicious to Mme. Ramotswe.
  • Big Beautiful Woman
  • Darkest Africa: Averted big time. Botswana is portrayed as a modern, fairly prosperous nation, albeit one still struggling with the AIDS crisis.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Jill Scott had to bulk up to play the "traditionally-built" Ramotswe for the pilot. She was pregnant for the second, eliminating that problem.
    • Surprising, considering she was never exactly petite to begin with.
  • Fake Nationality: Ramotswe is played by American Jill Scott. They tried to find someone in Africa to play her, but failed.
    • Quite a lot of fake Batswana in fact.
  • Funny Background Event: in the pilot, Mma Ramotswe and Makutsi leaving work at the end of the day, not noticing that an unhappy client has grafitied their "No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" sign.
  • Good Old Ways: The old Botswana morality. Mma Ramotswe frequently bemoans the lack of it.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Wendy Scott-Carr is a secretary.
  • Insistent Terminology: in the books, Mma Ramotswe always refers to herself as "...traditionally built."
  • Large Ham: David Oyelowo in the pilot, Patterson Joseph as a rival detective.
  • Little Old Lady Investigates: Precious Ramotswe is not old, and definitely not little. The premise is mostly similar though.
  • Orphanage of Love: Mma Potokwane's orphan farm.
  • Private Detective
  • Running Gag Mr. J.L.B Maketoni's full name. Mma Ramotswe knows what it is, but no one else does. John Limpopo Basil. He doesn't like the "Basil".
  • Sassy Secretary: Only slightly. Makutsi will not hesitate to point out that she got 97% on her exams at the Botswana Secretarial College.
  • Scenery Porn: Shot on location in Botswana, the landscape shots will show anyone why Mma Ramotswe loves her country.
  • Sexy Secretary: Mma Makutsi averts this. She only makes a half-decent stab at Hot Librarian, actually and says she doesn't like them. Her rival from secretarial college however exploits this trope in order to get jobs despite getting half of Makutsi's score.
  • Token White: completely averted, there being no white people in the regular cast. None have even been seen on screen, actually. In the books there are several white people - Dr. Moffat, for instance - but they are treated no differently than the Batswana.
    • Relatively, Patel is the regular Token Non-African.
  • Took a Level In Badass: J.L.B. Maketoni in the season finale.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Precious is willing to wait in the dark with a rifle for a man-eating crocodile, but flees her van when she thinks a deadly snake is inside, until a man comes along and sorts out the problem for her. That doesn't stop her from taking credit for killing the snake when she wants to impress an arrogant attorney later on.
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