Marple: A Pocket Full Of Rye

Sunday, 6 September 2009, 8:00PM – 10:00PM

Business tyrant Rex Fortescue (Ken Cranham) collapses and dies while drinking his morning tea. A handful of rye is found in his pocket. Inspector Neele (Matthew Macfadyen) and his deputy Sergeant Pickford (Ralf Little) head to Yew Tree Lodge to inform the Fortescue family that Rex was poisoned to death by taxine, found in yew berries.
Prickly housekeeper Mary Dove (Helen Baxendale) wastes no time in telling the detectives that Rex’s young, glamorous wife Adele Fortescue (Anna Madeley) is more likely to be found with her lover Vivian Dubois (Joseph Beattie). She also reports that Rex was at loggerheads with his son Percival (Ben Miles), who felt he was driving the company business to ruin through bad decision making. His other son, Lance (Rupert Graves), was estranged from his father, but they recently received a telegram informing the household of his imminent arrival. When Rex’s daughter Elaine (Hattie Morahan) returns home and runs into the detectives, she is distraught but relieved that the death of her tyrant father will free her to follow her heart and marry socialist Gerald Wright (Chris Larkin).

Lance and his besotted wife Pat (Lucy Cohu) arrive at the house to a mixed welcome, especially when he admits that he had visited his father a few months earlier without the knowledge of the family. Percival and his wife Jennifer (Liz White), who seems at odds with the dysfunctional Fortescue family, are particularly displeased to see Lance.

It is not long before Mary Dove finds the body of Adele Fortescue – poisoned by cyanide in her tea. Soon after, the housemaid Gladys Martin (Rose Heiney) is also found dead – strangled with a stocking and left with a clothes peg on her nose. Miss Marple (Julia McKenzie) arrives at the house, having heard about Gladys’ murder, as Gladys was a former maid of her own. When house cook Mrs Crump (Wendy Richard) tells Miss Marple that Gladys was acting strangely, Miss Marple looks through Gladys’s things and finds postcards from her sweetheart, Albert Evans.

Miss Marple wastes no time in offering her assistance to a bemused Neele, and quickly connects all the murders to the nursery rhyme Sing A Song of Sixpence, a theory which is compounded by the news that Rex was recently taunted with dead blackbirds, baked into a pie he was about to tuck into. Percival then informs Neele that the Blackbird mine in Africa was involved in one of Rex’s shady business deals. A man called MacKenzie died at the mine and his family have been hell bent on revenge ever since, as they believed he was swindled and murdered by Rex. With Mrs MacKenzie (Prunella Scales) now institutionalised, nobody knows the whereabouts of his daughter, Ruby.

Neele discovers that Adele had left everything to Vivian Dubois. However, there was a clause in Rex’s will stating that his wife would only inherit the money if she survived him for more than a month. If she didn’t, the money would go back into the business and therefore into Percival’s hands. It appears there were several people with motives to kill Rex Fortescue. And the truth of which one drove someone to murder will shock the foundations of the Fortescue family to the core.

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