RogerBW's Blog

A Murder Is Announced 05 December 2021

1999 audio adaptation by Michael Bakewell of Christie's 1950 mystery, in five 30-minute episodes. When the local paper carries an advertisement that there'll be a murder, everyone in the village turns up to see what's going on. But it's the gunman who ends up dead…

Miss Marple is played by June Whitfield, and while she's a bit more in the thick of things here than in 2001's The Moving Finger (another Bakewell adaptation directed by Enyd Williams) she doesn't seem to have much enthusiasm for the whole business. It's a valid reading, I suppose, but to me Miss Marple has always held a tension between the enjoyment of doing the thing she does well and the sadness of the need for it to be done at all.

Sarah Lawson does a fine job as the determinedly sensible Letty Blacklock… though actually there are rather a lot of determinedly sensible ladies here, and their voices do blend into each other a little. (And one rather silly one, who is sadly distinctive, but at least she gets bumped off.)

Mitzi the Mitteleuropan refugee is played even more for laughs than in the book, by Jenny Funnell with an accent worse than mine. (But this is Christie, so foreigners are either sinister or funny to start with; I don't blame her for trying to have some fun with the part.)

It's a rather more businesslike mystery than the book: the mystery surrounding Phillipa's deceased husband is all rolled into the conclusion, and the various romances and not-romances are entirely elided. It's been a while since I heard one of these that was so blatantly a condensation.

What it does carry over well is that 1950s sense of understated post-war British grimness (they aren't all keeping birds because they like home-laid eggs). Not the most faithful adaptation, but a good drama.

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