RogerBW's Blog

The Mystery of the Blue Train 23 July 2021

1985 audio adaptation of Christie's 1928 mystery, in six half-hour episodes. The heiress was murdered on the train on which her estranged husband was also travelling; of course her jewels were missing, and everyone suspects her parasite of a lover. Poirot, equally of course, is not so sure.

This is to my mind one of Christie's weaker novels, even though it's a reworking of an earlier short story, and seems like an odd choice for the first of the BBC's audio adaptations of the Poirot books. (An opening scene with some very dodgy accents… is sadly in keeping with the thrillery style of the original, and the jumping around in location follows it too.) All the key points are here, and Michael Bakewell even retains the somewhat fiddly romantic subplots, but as an audio drama I think it indulges too much in its own complications.

Maurice Denham does a self-indulgent job as Poirot, hamming up the accent, and since there's no particular chain of reasoning for him to follow he often lapses into pomposity. Jane Leonard and Ronald Herdman continue the overdone accents as a Greek fence and his daughter. And of course a reformed rake is about as unconvincing here as he is in the book.

On the other hand the rest of the cast is solid, particularly Moir Leslie in the minor role of Lenox; they don't overdo the acting to the detriment of telling the story. Sound effects are used with a light touch. It's just a pity that this cast and crew couldn't have had a better basis for their first outing.

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