Friday, March 06, 2009

UK: The new Miss Marple on ITV at Easter - & the location of St Mary's Mead?

I've been doing some web-searching to try and find out when the new series of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple stories featuring Julia McKenzie will be shown on ITV, and according to some folk on DigitalSpy the first one, A Pocket Full of Rye, is scheduled for Easter. We'll see.

This programme has already been broadcast in several countries outside the UK, and for anyone desperate to know if Julia McKenzie's portrayal of the aged sleuth will be more Joan Hickson than Margaret Rutherford, several episodes (A Pocket Full of Rye and Murder Is Easy) are available on YouTube I'm not at all sure about the legality of whole episodes being there, and you would have to watch ten or so segments to see the whole thing, so personally I think I'll wait for the TV version!

As a matter of interest, although many people believe St Mary's Mead to be located in Hampshire between Basingstoke (Market Basing) and Bournemouth (Danemouth), and the location may indeed have evolved over the years through Christie's novels, the first reference to the village places it firmly in Kent, and in a Poirot story.

First mentioned in The Mystery of the Blue Train, a Poirot mystery published in 1928, St Mary Mead in Kent is the residence of its heroine, Katherine Grey.

During the same year Christie created one of her most famous sleuths, Miss Jane Marple, whom she introduced in a short story, The Tuesday Night Club. Miss Marple becomes the armchair solver of mysteries in a series of six short stories published in various magazines over the next few years. The club, founded by Miss Marple’s novelist nephew Raymond West, meets every week in St Mary Mead to discuss unsolved crimes, and quiet, genteel Miss Marple is always the one who solves each mystery. She explains: “Human nature is much the same in a village as anywhere else, only one has opportunities and leisure for seeing it at closer quarters.”

In 1932 these stories and seven others were gathered together and published in one volume as The Thirteen Problems. By this time the first full-length Marple novel, Murder At The Vicarage, had been published and Christie had fictionalised Kent as ‘Downshire’.

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