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Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple (BBC-1 1984-1992, Joan Hickson)

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Twelve stories adapted for television, all first shown on BBC1. Starring Joan Hickson as murder solving elderly sleuth Miss Jane Marple, of St Mary Mead. After the runaway success of the first series, which began with a three-part story shown on the three consecutive days following Christmas, the BBC made two-hour Miss Marple features into a regular Christmas event, at first heralding the second series, and later in the form of one-off specials. These two-hour Christmas specials were later re-edited into two episodes each, for reruns on the BBC as well as for syndication to foreign markets.

Title music (and series 1 incidental music) composed by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley. Incidental Music credited to Ken Howard alone after series 1, and the credits to “A Carribean Mystery” (1989) say Music composed by Ken Howard–no mention of Alan Blaikley, even for the title music. Musical Director John Altman.

While Joan Hickson is the only cast member to appear in every story, there are several recurring characters, who in most instances were cast with the same actors. Most notably, Det. Insp. (later Chief Insp, and finally Superintendent) Slack, played by David Horovitch, and Slack’s sidekick, Det. Sergeant Lake.

Two characters who each appear in more than one story were played by different actors: Jason Rafiel, played by Frank Gatliff in “Nemesis” (1987), and by Donald Pleasence in “A Caribbean Mystery” (1989, but from a novel earlier in date than “Nemesis”); and Miss Marple’s nephew Raymond West, played by David McAlister in 1987, but by Trevor Bowen in 1989 and 1992. The reverse situation–two different characters played by the same actor–only occurs once, and that is a marginal case: The distinction falls to Donald Burton, who played the small role of “Bosola” in Sleeping Murder (1987), and also played a TV commentator in the subsequent story, At Bertram’s Hotel (also 1987).

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See also the ITV take on the Miss Marple character.

production details
UK / BBC One / 26 December 1984 – 27 December 1992

cast
Joan Hickson as Miss Marple

THE EPISODES
SPECIAL
THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY (26-28 Dec 1984)

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SEASON ONE
1. THE MOVING FINGER (2 parter 21-22 Feb 1985)
2. A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED (3 parter 28 Feb – 2 Mar 1985)
3. A POCKETFUL OF RYE (2 parter 7-10 Mar 1985)

SPECIAL
THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE (25 Dec 1986)

SEASON TWO
1. SLEEPING MURDER (2 parter 11-18 Jan 1987)
2. AT BERTRAM’S HOTEL (2 parter 25 Jan – 1 Feb 1987)
3. NEMESIS (2 parter 8-15 Feb 1987)

SPECIALS
4.50 FROM PADDINGTON (25 Dec 1987)
A CARIBBEAN MYSTERY (25 Dec 1989)
THEY DO IT WITH MIRRORS (29 Dec 1991)
THE MIRROR CRACK’D FROM SIDE TO SIDE (27 Dec 1992)

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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