The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a series of novels by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith. The agency is located in Gaborone, capital of Botswana. Its founder is a Motswana woman, Mma Precious Ramotswe, who features as the stories' protagonist and main detective. The episodic novels are as much about the adventures and foibles of different characters as they are about solving mysteries. Each book in the series follows on from the previous book. They have been adapted for radio, television, and internet.
Mma Precious Ramotswe, the first female private investigator in Botswana. 'Traditionally built' heroine and protagonist of the series.
Mma Grace Makutsi, the Agency's secretary and Mma Ramotswe's assistant.
Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, mechanic and proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Mma Ramotswe's suitor and eventual husband. He is always referred to in these novels by this very formal title.
Charlie, the older of the two apprentices in Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's garage.
Fanwell, the younger apprentice, always referred to as such in the earlier novels. His name is not mentioned until Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. He lives in a small house with his grandmother and his several younger brothers and sisters. Although he is slightly more serious than his older friend, Charlie, he still frequently discusses girls with Charlie.
Violet Sephotho, Mma Makutsi's rival from the Botswana Secretarial College, introduced in In the Company of Cheerful Ladies. She returns in most books subsequent to her introduction with new schemes to ruin Mma Makutsi's life with Rra Phuti Radiphuti. In The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, she is discussed as running for a parliament in an upcoming by-election but makes no direct appearance.
Dr Moffat, A real person, Howard Moffat, a direct descendant of Robert Moffat, the Scottish missionary whose daughter married David Livingstone. He and his wife are good friends of Mma Ramotswe
Mma Potokwane, matron of the 'Orphan Farm', always ready to offer wisdom, bush tea and cake to Mma Ramotswe
Rra Obed Ramotswe, The Father of Precious Ramotswe. Although he does not appear in the book, Mma Ramotswe often invokes his memory when contemplating a case or life in general.
Note Mokoti, Mma Precious Ramotswe's former husband and father of her child. Note treated Mma Ramotswe poorly and Precious says that marrying him was a mistake.
The BBC and American television network HBO filmed a series based on the books. It stars Jill Scott as Mma. Ramotswe and was shot on location in Botswana. The 109-minute pilot was written by Richard Curtis and Anthony Minghella, who also directed. The six 60-minute episodes were written and directed by others.
McCall Smith himself dramatised the series for BBC Radio 4. Eight series have been broadcast, the first beginning on 10 September 2004, the last ending on 21 March 2013. The series encompass the first to thirteenth books. They star Claire Benedict as Mma Ramotswe (except the 2010 episodes, when she was played by Janice Acquah).