Filed under: Agatha Christie, Books, Costume Dramas, Fripperies, Miss Marple, Shoes, Trinkets
I must admit I sat down ready to cast a rather jaundiced eye over ITV’s latest series of Marple [they did away with the “Miss” in the previous series in order to gussy it up somewhat and appeal to The Youth Market or some such, which is ridiculous, unnecessary and loses a little of the charm granted by the pleasing alliteration of the two M’s, if you ask me. Though nobody did, of course, which is very much their loss.]
Julia McKenzie is the seventh incumbent of the much-loved Agatha Christie character, following in the somewhat daunting footsteps of Geraldine McEwan, Gracie Fields, Margaret Rutherford, Angela Lansbury, Helen Hayes and my favourite of the Miss Marples (ha, in your face, ITV), the indomitable Joan Hickson – a class act which would be nigh on impossible to beat.
However, as the darling Hickson is no longer with us, I have come to terms with the fact that one must allow others to step into the [sensible] shoes. It has taken some time, and I am afraid I must admit my snobbishness put me off viewing the previous series – with Geraldine McEwan as Miss marple – altogether. Therefore, I cannot judge if McKenzie is better or worse than her immediate predecessor, but as I have always liked her as an actress, so was willing to at least give her a chance. I am sure she – and ITV – are very much relieved to hear this.
Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie’s grandson and Chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd, has said that he is “…delighted that Julia McKenzie is playing Miss Marple, one of my grandmother’s, and the British public’s favourite fictional characters. She has that wonderful combination of homeliness, intelligence and compassion that is so appealing and effective in solving mysteries. The British public is in for a treat with this story and another three more, not to mention marvellous casts to support Julia. My grandmother would have been very proud that her work still commands such outstanding professional support in the twenty-first century.”
Well. Of course, one call fall in love with settings and start swooning all over the place as country houses, well-manicured lawns and luscious costumes all jostle for attention. I did worry that the first few minutes would prove to be more than enough for me, as it seemed to be jumping from pillar to post by way of a Vaseline-smeared camera lens, in order to convey the subtle message This Is a Flashback, to incredibly dense viewers. It got better.
I liked Mckenzie’s performance very much indeed – just the right amount of knowing sweetness and the ability to turn on the gimlet-eyed stare to quell the hardiest of criminals. It was never going to beat Joan Hickson’s portrayal, I suppose, but this is a very pleasing series, and the perfect Sunday evening cosy viewing.We watched it with pots of tea & toasted fruit bread dripping with butter. I say we but the be-ringleted fiance only managed to make it through the first hour. Don’t be guilty of assuming this meant it was dreadful. For him, that’s paramount to nominating the series for an BAFTA. He doesn’t do historical dramas, really, but bless his heart he tried.I shall certainly be catching the next installment, though have resigned myself to the fact I shall likely have the sofa to myself.
This all ties in rather nicely with a Treasury I was putting together a while ago (having always loved Miss Marple). I got to wondering how Miss Marple would have been as a young gal, and thought she must surely always have been fascinated in the mysterious and, therefore, couldn’t possibly have resisted sticking her nose into other people’s business. This time, though, she’d have been wearing foxier outfits whilst sleuthing, don’t you think?
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I must say I really like the Miss Marple Look anyway – especially as the days get chillier with a distinct Autumnal nip in the air and one turns to opaques and strokes cashmere again with gentle hand of a lover. Every now and again I start hankering after a bit of tweed, myself, though glamourised with sexy heels and a slash of red lipstick, of course…
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