Marple

Sunday, 13 September 2009, 8:00PM – 10:00PM

During a chance encounter on a train, the elderly Miss Lavinia Pinkerton (Sylvia Syms) confides in Miss Marple that she is going to Scotland Yard to report a murderer who has already struck several times in the peaceful village of Wychwood-under-Ashe. ‘Bumble bee’, she warns, is next. When she later reads that Miss Pinkerton died in a tragic accident before making her report, Miss Marple determines that it must fall to her to find out who the killer is…

Charming her way into village life, Miss Marple is befriended by Luke Fitzwilliam (Benedict Cumberbatch), a handsome former policeman who is increasingly drawn to the mysterious young American and newcomer to the village Bridget Conway (Margo Stilley). Luke and Bridget are not the only young couple making eyes at each other – the dashing young doctor Geoff Thomas (James Lance) also appears taken with his partner, the belligerent Dr Humbleby’s (Tim Brooke Taylor), beautiful daughter Rose (Camilla Arfwedson), much to Humbleby’s disapproval.

Miss Marple is soon acquainted with church organist Honoria Waynflete (Shirley Henderson), Miss Pinkerton’s closest friend. Honoria is pitied by the villagers, having given up a chance for happiness with local MP Major Horton (David Haig) many years ago to take care of her disabled brother, who died in a tragic accident. She also learns that the grandmother of Honoria’s maid Amy (Lyndsey Marshal) was fatally poisoned recently – an ‘accident’ Miss Pinkerton was most suspicious of.

The sudden death of Dr Humbleby – the ‘bumble bee’ of Miss Pinkerton’s warning – shocks the village even further, especially so soon after the ‘accidental’ demise of their beloved Reverend Minchin. His replacement, the Reverend Henry Wake, must proceed over his third funeral in just several weeks. Luke now finds himself becoming Miss Marple’s confidante and ally in the search for the truth, with the pair gently guiding the nervous PC Terence Reed (Russell Tovey) in their quest.

It’s not long before the bereaved Jessie Humbleby (Jemma Redgrave) loses her grip on reality, worrying the village residents with her blustering determination to cope with widowhood. Meanwhile, the local election gathers pace with Major Horton standing for the conservatives, aided by his adoring wife Lydia (Anna Chancellor). He is backed by the ubiquitous solicitor James Abbot (Hugo Speer), who barely bothers to conceal his lecherous intentions towards Amy.

When Honoria awakes to find Amy dead in her bed, having apparently mistaken a bottle of hat dye for cough mixture, Constable Reed turns to Miss Marple for guidance in the murky waters of his first murder case. As Luke downplays the link between the deaths and the arrival of Bridget, Miss Marple prepares to reveal a secret so shocking the villagers will never forget it…

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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