I first noticed this decades ago in the BBC series Silent Witness, and since then repeatedly, and most recently in The Devil's Hour (Amazon). British characters involved in a police investigation, usually as witnesses, victims, or their families, etc, address non-uniformed police as e.g. 'Detective Jones'. This despite the fact that Brits don't do this. Other police will either use just first names or surnames, often with the abbreviated rank (e.g. 'DI (Detective Inspector) Burnside', 'DS (Detective Sergeant) Mukerjee', etc. Civilians tend to follow suit, although the (real) detective who investigated a crime I was a witness to made me call him 'Jim'. I am supposing it's done to make the shows more palatable to an 'international' audience, although Jed Mercurio's Line of Duty doesn't do it, and it has sold well outside the UK. Is there a name for this type of doctoring of dialogue - is it a trope?

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    It reminds me of the 'TV Tropes' thing Eagleland Osmosis - e.g. 'Louis Ciccone: Your honour, may I approach the bench? Judge: You've been watching too much American TV, Mr. Ciccone. No one "approaches the bench" in a Canadian court.' Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 20:53
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    I feel it's just poorly researched writing. I'm not sure a lot of Brits are aware of the correct term to use - I'm aware of DI/DS/DC as terms but I wouldn't know that Detective was strictly incorrect. My favorite cop movie Hot Fuzz does use DS/DC so I'm pleased to see that was accurate.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 20:54
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    It might be the case of a civilian not knowing how to correctly address a non-uniformed police officer, hence they use the universal (although Americanized) "detective". US tv shows have promoted this word so many people will use it
    – Yasskier
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 0:29
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    @iandotkelly The special features on the Hot Fuzz disc go into some detail about how the film gets some surprising things right about police work (and not by accident, either). It's a great movie, and the extras are good.
    – Tom
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 2:09
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    I have to admit I didn't know 'detective' was wrong until I researched further after reading this. I was, of course aware of the whole DCI/DI/DS/DC & generic 'officer' thing, but had never extrapolated to 'just detective' being wrong.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 16:58


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