Agatha Christie: new releases reviewed. #5. Miss Marple’s Final Cases (BBC radio)


Last month, September 2015, saw the world celebrating Agatha Christie’s 125th birthday. Several books, events, broadcasts, and other releases marked the occasion. Finally, I’ve got organized and on top of my shopping list. This week, I’ll be reviewing five new Christie releases. One a day.

Full disclosure: I listened to these on the radio, rather than buying the CD. But I would happily buy the CD if it meant that more would be commissioned. What a treat. After more than a decade, June Whitfield returns to the role she made her own on Radio 4. She is much older now, and so is Miss Marple. These new adaptations by Joy Wilkinson are based on short stories, and they make the most of their collective title, Miss Marple’s Final Cases.

Unlike Michael Bakewell, the previous Christie dramatist who focused very intently on plot, Wilkinson tends to instill atmosphere into her scripts, making them strong period pieces that are also achingly contemporary (her masterpiece is And Then There Were None, which nobody else could have translated to radio). In these three half-hour episodes, “Tape Measure Murder,” “The Case of the Perfect Maid,” and “Sanctuary,” Marple appears ill and close to death. Her small world has evolved and she occupies a timeless liminality in her St Mary Meade cottage. But over the course of three investigations, she becomes animated. This mini-series is great fun, but it’s also subtly creepy. And I don’t care what anyone says: June Whitfield is the best Miss Marple ever.