Three Blind Mice (radio play and short story)

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The billing from the Radio Times issue of 25–31 May 1947, illustrating the night's programmes on radio for Queen Mary including the performance of Three Blind Mice

Three Blind Mice is the name of a half-hour radio play written by Agatha Christie and broadcast on the BBC Light Programme at 8.00pm on Friday 30 May 1947.

It was part of an evening of programmes in honour of the eightieth birthday of Queen Mary. The BBC had approached the Queen some months before and asked what programmes she would like to hear. Amongst a selection of music and variety, she requested something by Christie who was a writer she admired. Christie agreed, asking that her fee of one hundred Guineas be donated to the Southport Infirmary Children's Toy Fund.[1]

The idea for the play came from a real-life crime tragedy, the Dennis O'Neill case, of 1945 with the death of a boy in foster care. Christie's official biography states that the name of the boy was Daniel O'Neill[2] but contemporary newspaper reports state the name of the boy as Dennis O'Neill.

At some point soon after transmission of the radio play the suggestion was made to Christie that she turn it into a short story.[3] This was published in the US in Cosmopolitan magazine in May 1948 and then in the 1950 collection Three Blind Mice and Other Stories.

Christie saw the potential of expanding the half-hour radio play into a full theatre play and in 1952, The Mousetrap, the play that has the longest initial run of any play in the world, first came to the stage. As another play had run on the stage just prior to the Second World War also with the title Three Blind Mice, Christie had to change the name. It was her son-in-law, Anthony Hicks, who suggested The Mousetrap,[4] which is taken from Act III, Scene II of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Allan McClelland, in the role of Christopher Wren, was the only actor to make the transition from the radio production to the stage play.

No recording of the original radio plays exists and the script is not commercially available. Further, Christie asked that the short story not be published in the UK as long as The Mousetrap continued to run on the stage. The text of the latter play was published in 1954 by Samuel French as 'French's Acting Edition No 153' and also in the HarperCollins 1993 collection The Mousetrap and Other Plays (ISBN 0-00-224344-X).

1947 radio production[edit]

Director/Producer: Martyn C. Webster

Cast:
Barry Morse played Giles Davis
Belle Chrystall played Molly Davis
Gladys Young played Mrs Boyle
Richard Williams played Major Metcalf
Raf De La Torre played Mr Paravicini
Allan McClelland played Christopher Wren
Lewis Stringer played Detective-Sergeant Trotter
Lydia Sherwood played Mrs Lyon

Other parts were played by Marjorie Westbury, David Kossoff and Duncan McIntyre

References[edit]

  1. ^ Morgan, Janet. Agatha Christie, A Biography. (Page 261) Collins, 1984 ISBN 0-00-216330-6
  2. ^ Morgan. (Page 262)
  3. ^ Christie, Agatha. An Autobiography. (Page 510). Collins, 1977. ISBN 0-00-216012-9
  4. ^ Morgan. (Page 291)