Few programmes better illustrate the class divide between critic and viewer than Poirot or Marple. These are rarely reviewed in the high brow arts programmes but their popularity remains undimmed. Agatha Christie is not rated as a writer though her works are read by more people than any literary work. More importantly, for television they are endlessly adaptable for the big audience. Sherlock Holmes is much the same.
The novel written in 1967 as Endless Night did not actually feature Jane Marple. She rarely leaves her village, which must have the highest murder rate in the world, but to work her in she was comforting an old friend, Marjorie (Wendy Craig) . The central character Mike Rogers, played by Tom Hughes, is a cockney chancer who marries an American heiress Ellie (Joanna Vanderham) and they have a house built at the site of a gypsy curse. The architect, who is dying of consumption, has a younger brother who Mike tried to save in a skating accident. To add glamour, Ellie has a companion Greta played by one of the stars of Borgen Brigiite Hjort Sorensen . She is currently playing to packed houses in Coriolanus. She has the pouting full lips of the young Bardot. She can act too normally playing, as she does here, emotionally powerful manipulative women.
It all makes for a successful thriller although most can see the end from far away. I do not quite visualise Julia Mackenzie as Jane Marple, she is a tad too young and glamorous. Nonetheless it was two hours of absorbing drama and as good as anything I have seen in a generally disappointing Xmas and New Year television schedule.