So long, in fact, that I now think of him as the charming panelist on Qi rather than the paranormal consultant from Sussex.
But he’s back in this special episode 3 years after last gracing our screens (the regular series ended in 2004).
In 2013’s “The Clue of the Savant’s Thumb” he’s moved from the world of illusion to the advertising industry, married Polly (Sarah Alexander) and his crumpled coat is hanging quietly in a closet, as if waiting for its next adventure like Batman‘s cape. Despite the changes, and no sign of Maddie Magellan (Caroline Quentin), Creek is still the unassuming, shrewd crime-buster he always was.
What draws him from his slumber is a baffling case of writer and intellectual Franklin Tartikoff (Nigel Planer) and his subsequently missing body. Like a puzzling riddle, his corpse vanishes from inside a tiny, locked room, witnessed through a keyhole by his wife, Rosalind (Joanna Lumley).
Adding to the star power here is an eccentric but wheelchair-bound DI Gideon Pryke (Rik Mayall) and Sheridan Smith returns as former colleague and sceptic Joey Ross, luring Creek back to his clue-work in spite of himself.
Yes, if it’s been a long time since Alan Davies played Creek then feels even longer since two of The Young Ones were performing in the same story (newsflash: they’re not so young, anymore).
The backdrop for it all is a rumbling former Catholic Girls School where a young Rosalind was once at the mercy of its strict nuns, and supernatural forces seemingly preyed on the girls. We see flashbacks of strange childhood memories that still haunt her.
How all the pieces fit together is quite the whodunnit-jigsaw, but in crafting them it’s also not always apparent how the characters know one another.
Mayall makes the most of his supporting role, injecting plenty of life into his wheelchair-bound character (elsewhere there’s a photo of Stephen Hawking, as if suggesting he was an inspiration). Sheridan Smith continues to impress me, on the back of her work in Mrs Biggs and Mr Stink (the latter airs on ABC1 Christmas Eve).
But it’s Alan Davies they’ll be here to see. After 4 seasons in the title role he practically strides through these scenes without any effort. Maybe that’s been his secret all along.
8:30pm Wednesday January 1 on ABC1.