RogerBW's Blog

Nemesis 07 August 2022

1998 audio adaptation by Michael Bakewell of Christie's 1971 mystery, in five 30-minute episodes.

Like a lot of late Christie, this is one in which her attitudes (which hadn't really changed since the 1920s) are very obvious: specifically, in this case, that a certain sort of relationship (broadly accepted even in 1971 and certainly in 1998) cannot ever be considered a "real" thing, just a temporary phase. Hey ho.

But we start with a flashback in a flashback, as we have Mr Rafiel (George A. Cooper from the previous year's audio version of A Caribbean Mystery) narrating his post-mortem letter sent to Miss Marple, and then an extract from that earlier production to explain how that happened; it's a little clumsy in the written version, and more so here. More interestingly, what is in the book a short mention of the obsolescence of the name "Inch" for the local taxi service, which branches into a bit about how the older inhabitants know perfectly well what the place is called but refer to it as "Inch" from habit, turns here into a whole bit about how Miss Marple is getting forgetful and demanding; Cherry's nagging her to be careful and do less is brought round from "because we worry about you" to something closer to "because you are a dozy old bat who may well forget who she is and wander into traffic". In Bakewell's adaptations any change is worthy of notice, and this seems like a surprising one to make, particularly as it's not mentioned later in the story.

We do get a rare non-Bond apperance from Desmond Llewelyn as Archdeacon Brabazon (he'd die the next year), but this is mostly Mary Wimbush's show to steal as Clotilde Bradbury-Scott: she's always worth listening to in these things, and here she has a good solid part to work with.

This is the usual safe Bakewell adaptation, but on the rare occasions that Wimbush and June Whitfield (Marple as usual) get a scene together it's elevated to something rather special.

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