Agatha Christie's Marple
|Starring||Geraldine McEwan (2004–09)
Julia McKenzie (2009–13)
|Country of origin||UK|
|No. of series||6|
|No. of episodes||23 (list of episodes)|
|Producer(s)||Agatha Christie Ltd.,
|Running time||88–94 minutes|
|Original channel||ITV, STV, UTV|
|Original release||12 December 2004 – 29 December 2013|
|Related shows||Miss Marple|
Agatha Christie's Marple (or simply Marple) is a British ITV television series based on the books and short stories by British crime novelist Agatha Christie. The title character was played by Geraldine McEwan from the first to third series, until her retirement from the role, and by Julia McKenzie from the fourth series onwards.
Each series consists of four feature-length episodes, except series six which only has three episodes. The first six episodes were all adaptations of Miss Marple novels by Christie. Subsequent episodes were derived both from works featuring Miss Marple but also Christie novels that did not feature the character. The title of the series removes the word Miss from Miss Marple, to match the title of the Agatha Christie's Poirot series.
Following the conclusion of the sixth series, it was announced that the BBC had acquired the rights for the production of Agatha Christie adaptations, suggesting that ITV would be unable to make a seventh series of Marple.
Agatha Christie's Marple follows the adventures of Miss Jane Marple, an elderly spinster living in the quiet little village of St Mary Mead. During her many visits to friends and relatives in other villages, Miss Marple often stumbles upon mysterious murders which she helps solve. Although the police are sometimes reluctant to accept Miss Marple's help, her reputation and unparalleled powers of observation eventually win them over.
During her adventures, Miss Marple also meets Tommy and Tuppence, who were the protagonists of another series of Christie novels.
A few other characters appear in more than one episode, although they are not always played by the same actor. Exceptions are Joanna Lumley, who plays Mrs Dolly Bantry in The Body in the Library and The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side, and Stephen Churchett, who appears as the coroner in four episodes.
Dr Haydock appears in three episodes, but is played by three different actors: Robin Soans in The Body in the Library, Robert Powell in The Murder at the Vicarage and Neil Stuke in The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side. Jason Rafiel, an old friend of Marple's, was voiced by Herbert Lom (who made an on-screen appearance as Mr Dufosse in "Murder at the Vicarage") in Nemesis and played by Antony Sher in A Caribbean Mystery.
Christie wrote twelve novels about Miss Marple, all of which have been adapted for the series. They are:
- The Murder at the Vicarage
- The Body in the Library
- The Moving Finger
- A Murder is Announced
- They Do It with Mirrors
- A Pocket Full of Rye
- 4.50 from Paddington
- The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
- A Caribbean Mystery
- At Bertram's Hotel
- Sleeping Murder
There are, however, a number of short stories featuring Miss Marple that remain unfilmed and it is unknown whether these will be adapted for future episodes. Four have currently been adapted: The Blue Geranium was adapted into a full-length episode while Greenshaw's Folly and The Thumb Mark of St. Peter were combined into one story. Elements of The Herb of Death were featured in the adaptation of The Secret of Chimneys.
This would leave 18 short stories for potential adaptation: The Tuesday Night Club, Ingots of Gold, The Blood-Stained Pavement, The Idol House of Astarte, Motive v. Opportunity, The Companion, The Four Suspects, A Christmas Tragedy, The Affair at the Bungalow, Death by Drowning, Sanctuary, Strange Jest, Tape-Measure Murder, The Case of the Caretaker, The Case of the Perfect Maid, Miss Marple Tells a Story, The Dressmaker's Doll, In a Glass Darkly.
Awards and nominations
Agatha Christie's Marple is aired in the United States on PBS on Mystery!, where it is presented as "Agatha Christie's Miss Marple". The series is broadcast to the whole of Canada on CBC and in French on Radio-Canada. In Australia, Agatha Christie's Marple airs on ABC1.
Marple is also being broadcast on ATV World in Hong Kong, on EBS and MegaTV in South Korea and on CCTV-8 in China. In China, however, The Body in the Library and Murder Is Easy haven't been shown due to the involvement of a lesbian and an incestuous relationship respectively. Why Didn't They Ask Evans? has been extensively edited due to the involvement of War-period China.
In Norway, the series has been airing on state broadcaster NRK1 as "Miss Marple". In Sweden, Marple airs on TV4, the biggest commercial TV station. In Poland, the series airs on Ale Kino+. In the Czech Republic it is broadcast under the name "Slečna Marplová" (Czech for 'Miss Marple').
Changes to novels
The show has sparked controversy with some viewers for its adaptations of the novels. The first episode, The Body in the Library, changed the identity of one of the killers and introduced lesbianism into the plot; the second episode explored Miss Marple's earlier life; the third episode contained a motive change and the fourth episode cut several characters and added affairs into the story and emphasized a lesbian subplot that was quite discreet in the original novel. The second series also saw some changes. By the Pricking of My Thumbs was originally a Tommy and Tuppence story, while The Sittaford Mystery was also not originally a Miss Marple book and the identity of the killer was changed. The third series has two adaptations that were not originally Miss Marple books: Ordeal by Innocence and Towards Zero. The fourth series continues the trend with Murder Is Easy and Why Didn't They Ask Evans?. The fifth series does the same, with The Secret of Chimneys and The Pale Horse, as does the sixth series with Endless Night.
- The Body in the Library makes some significant changes including a lesbian affair and the identity of one of the killers.
- The Murder at the Vicarage explores Miss Marple's early life.
- 4:50 from Paddington changes the killer's motive.
- A Murder Is Announced changes a couple of the characters and emphasizes a lesbian relationship.
- Sleeping Murder inserts a central romantic relationship and a travelling band of singers named 'The Funnybones'.
- The Moving Finger changes a few main devices.
- By the Pricking of My Thumbs was not originally a Miss Marple book, and changes many plot elements.
- The Sittaford Mystery changes the identity of the killer and inserts Miss Marple into the story.
- At Bertram's Hotel was only very loosely based on the novel, and changes the plot, characters and setting.
- Ordeal by Innocence includes drastic changes to the characters, the least of which is adding Marple into the story.
- Towards Zero was not originally a Miss Marple book.
- Nemesis is only very loosely based on the novel, and experiments with both the suspects and setting.
- A Pocket Full of Rye is a surprisingly faithful adaption of the book, with only minor changes to the way characters are described.
- Murder Is Easy was not originally a Miss Marple book, and changes the murderer's motive.
- They Do It With Mirrors combines a few characters and adds an arson.
- Why Didn't They Ask Evans? was not originally a Miss Marple book, and was completely rewritten.
- The Pale Horse was not originally a Miss Marple book.
- The Secret of Chimneys was not originally a Miss Marple book, changes the killer's identity and uses elements from The Herb of Death.
- The Blue Geranium is greatly embellished from the original short story.
- The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side keeps closely to the original story.
- A Caribbean Mystery keeps closely to the original story.
- Greenshaw's Folly is combined with The Thumb Mark of St. Peter; the story is embellished, but keeps to the core of the original.
- Endless Night was not originally a Miss Marple book, but is very similar to The Case of The Caretaker.
The first series of Marple was released in March 2005 in the UK, followed by the second series in July 2006. Series 1 was released in the US (Region 1) in May 2005, followed by the second series in August 2006.
The third series was released in October 2007 in the US, but its UK release was delayed because of ITV's decision to defer airing the final two installments. ITV released the third series on DVD in October 2008, before the broadcast of the final episode, Nemesis in January 2009.
Series 4 was released in the UK in January 2010, before the airing of Why Didn't They Ask Evans? in June 2011. The fourth series was released in Region 1 in August 2009, after the conclusion of the broadcast on PBS Mystery!
Series 5 episodes The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side, The Secret of Chimneys and The Blue Geranium were released in the US (Region 1) in August 2010. The remaining episode of the fifth series, The Pale Horse, was released separately in June 2011, coinciding with its broadcast on PBS Mystery! that year. Series 5 was released in the UK (Region 2) in June 2011. Series 1 to 5 were released in a 20 DVD box-set as "Agatha Christie's Marple - The Collection" in August 2011 in the UK.
Marple was filmed in various locations, including London, the villages of Englefield in Berkshire, Chilham in Kent and Turville, in Buckinghamshire and Blewbury in Oxfordshire. Windsor Guildhall in Windsor was featured as the fictional Melchester in Murder at the Vicarage. Knebworth House was used in 4.50 From Paddington and Greenshaw's Folly. Hatfield House was used as 'Chimneys' in The Secret of Chimneys. Hambleden was used as St. Mary Mead and Dorney Court featured in The Body in the Library as Gossington Hall, home of the Bantry's. Fawley Court, Buckinghamshire was used as 'Stoneygates' in They Do It with Mirrors and The Grotto was used as the exterior of the secret folly in Endless Night. In Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, the 'Castle Savage' scenes were largely filmed at Loseley Park near Guildford. A Caribbean Mystery was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa. The beach scenes were shot at Boulders Beach. Scenes were filmed in Dorchester for Endless Night.
|12 December 2004||The Body in the Library||8.72|
|19 December 2004||The Murder at the Vicarage||8.36|
|26 December 2004||4:50 from Paddington||5.95|
|2 January 2005||A Murder Is Announced||7.78|
|5 February 2006||Sleeping Murder||8.74|
|12 February 2006||The Moving Finger||7.89|
|19 February 2006||By the Pricking of My Thumbs||7.93|
|30 April 2006||The Sittaford Mystery||6.58|
|23 September 2007||At Bertram’s Hotel||5.41|
|30 September 2007||Ordeal by Innocence||5.54|
|3 August 2008||Towards Zero||5.84|
|1 January 2009||Nemesis||4.48|
|6 September 2009||A Pocket Full of Rye||5.39|
|13 September 2009||Murder Is Easy||4.86|
|1 January 2010||They Do It With Mirrors||5.55|
|15 June 2011||Why Didn't They Ask Evans?||4.51|
|30 August 2010||The Pale Horse||5.11|
|27 December 2010||The Secret of Chimneys||5.06|
|29 December 2010||The Blue Geranium||5.96|
|2 January 2011||The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side||4.93|
|16 June 2013||A Caribbean Mystery||4.89|
|23 June 2013||Greenshaw's Folly||5.11|
|29 December 2013||Endless Night||5.34|
- "Media, books", The Guardian (UK), Oct 22, 2004.
- "David Williams heralds new era for BBC as the new home of Agatha Christie adaptations", The radio Times, Feb 28, 2014.
- "Case closed: ITV's Miss Marple", The Mirror (UK).