(With pictures) Editors please note, this feature is under strict EMBARGO until Tuesday February 19

[STANDFIRST] Jo Joyner and Mark Benton prove daytime drama can pack a punch - as Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators returns for a highly anticipated second season. Gemma Dunn finds out more.

A costly dognapping, the disappearance of an Eastern European oligarch and a run in with psychic sisters: there's plenty to look forward to from a second season of Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators.

The return of the daytime detective drama will see Frank Hathaway, a hard-boiled private investigator, and his rookie sidekick, ex-hairdresser, Lu Shakespeare (helmed by Mark Benton and Jo Joyner, respectively) uncover the secrets of rural Warwickshire's residents once more.

And judging by the success of its predecessor, the BBC One hit, set in Stratford-Upon-Avon, justifies why "light crime" is a genre worth watching.

"It's nice seeing all the daytime stuff that's on at the moment and thinking, 'We have quite a nice little slot in amongst it'. There's such a brilliant variation," begins Joyner, 41, thrilled by the series' comeback.

"But I think the balance of the buddy friendship that these two have, rather than it all being serious murder (is what makes the show so popular)," she reasons.

"There's a lot of doom and gloom at the moment, so that lightness really helps."

"You get a bit of everything and, like Jo said, there's so much dark drama and heavy stuff, which is wonderful, but sometimes people want to sit down and just enjoy something," agrees Benton, 53, of its appeal.

"And the nice thing with this series is the (cases) are not all murders!" reveals The Halcyon actor.

"It's not Midsomer Murders, it's not the scariest place to live, so there are different ones we can do!"

"It gives it more scope for silly things as well, like the dognapping and going to extremes, I suppose," adds Joyner.

"We have to infiltrate them."

What else is to come for the undercover double act, then?

"There's doppelgangers," Joyner unveils.

"There's a couple who are pretending to be us, so we have to investigate ourselves, essentially, which was quite funny."

"And there's a good episode about larping (live action role-play)," Benton quips.

"People dress up and they go to the forest and live this life like Lord of the Rings, so we have to go and investigate because this guy thinks his wife is having an affair!"

"It was Shakespeare & Hathaway do Game Of Thrones, that's how we felt!" follows Joyner, best known for her long-serving stint as EastEnders' Tanya Branning.

There's also an insight into Hathaway's past, Benton notes.

"You find out why Frank left the police force," he explains.

"It makes sense why Frank gets so much leeway with the police.

"It's always nice to have another layer," he insists.

"It's a fun show, and people enjoy it because of that, but for us it's nice to put a bit more story in there, a mix of comedy and drama."

While romance may be a no-no for the title characters ("It's a funny one that because you want to keep the possibility there, but I think if you go too far that way it might ruin the dynamic between them," Benton reflects), a lot can be said for the protagonists' "loyal" bond.

"I think that's what works," Benton starts.

"You've got the weather-beaten Colombo who has been there and done it, and then you've got the ex-hairdresser who is fresh to the business but is actually really intelligent and good at solving crimes.

"That's what's nice in series two," he continues.

"It's much more 'we both solve them', whereas series one was Jo's character learning a lot."

"There's a nice episode set at a tennis court, where you get a real sense of how they approach things differently," Jo recalls.

"Lu goes off and gossips, chats to a few people and finds out a few clues, while he's doing all the proper cop stuff!" she says, gesturing to her co-star.

Add tennis to wood-beamed pubs, sprawling estates and the quaint, leafy suburbs of Shakespeare country and the cosy whodunit is the perfect advert for idyllic Britain, too.

"I think that's why it's done so well abroad," Joyner muses.

"You couldn't really cram much more in there - you've got your Tudor buildings, Minis, Earl Grey tea... whenever we get a chance!"

She follows: "I often read the (scripts) and think, 'This will be fun'.

"It's a real privilege to go to some of the locations because of that 'quintessentially British' thing. There's a lot of stately homes!

"The fans are really are appreciating that landscape."

"The reaction from people is so nice; I've never known so many nice messages about the show," Benton admits, recalling its popularity in Russia, Poland and the Netherlands, for starters.

"People are really excited about the second one and it's lovely because when you make a show you have no idea how it's going to go down," he adds.

"We didn't realise it was going to be as funny as hopefully it is!"

So is a third season on the cards?

"I mean, we love it and we'd love to keep going!" Benton offers.

"It really is a joy to make - and I'm not just saying that," he quickly adds.

"Generally, when you're talking about shows you've done they're all 'A joy to make', but this actually is."

"There's a lot of shoots you finish and you're just so fed up and exhausted that you can't wait to leave..." Joyner confesses.

"And I must admit, by the time we finished this, although we were tired and cold, we were all getting on so well, we did go, 'Oh we could probably do another block'.

"How often do you finish something thinking that?

"I don't know whether it's something about filming in the Midlands, rather than a city," she concludes.

"But there seems to be a good spirit about it!"

Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators returns to BBC One on Monday February 25.