‘At Bertram’s Hotel’ (1987) (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Hotel Murder with Joan Hickson’s Marple

The seventh story of the ‘Miss Marple’ series starring Joan Hickson is ‘At Bertram’s Hotel’. This is presented as a 2 x 50 minute episode story and based on the original 1965 novel by Agatha Christie.

‘At Bertram’s Hotel’ was shown on the 25th of January and the 1st of February in 1987. I have seen the ITV version of this tale, but I have vague memories of it despite knowing Peter Davison was in it.

And if the ITV versions are anything to go by, I’m inclined to believe the BBC versions more since they’re mostly faithful to the original book. Seeing the BBC version has been interesting throughout.

It does take a while for the murder to be committed until the second half of the second episode. For the first episode and the second episode’s first half, we are given time to get to know the characters.

The story’s end also feels downbeat in the BBC version compared to the ITV one where it was happier. In fact, I recall the police investigator falling in love with one of the servants in the ITV version.

And from what my mum told me, the ITV version had the vicar character somewhat involved in the murder plot. There is also a doppelgänger element with the vicar that I do not think is well executed.

In the story, Miss Marple has a holiday at a luxurious hotel from her childhood. This holiday was provided for her by her nephew Raymond, whom we don’t see in this story. This is to last a fortnight.

A fortnight! Wow! Miss Marple must be pretty wealthy herself as well as having a wealthy family to provide her this holiday. Apparently the Bertam hotel’s based on Brown’s Hotel in London in real life.

Also staying at the hotel is Bess Sedgwick who is an international adventurer as well as her daughter Elvira Blake. Very soon, the hotel Miss Marple once stayed as a child is not the nice comforting place.

With a vicar gone missing and eventually found at a country house somewhere and a murder taking place involving family issues, Miss Marple puts these pieces together. Will the true culprit be found?

Once again, Joan Hickson delivers a superb performance as Miss Marple. It was interesting to see how Miss Marple gets a little nosey in this story, especially when she observes Bess Sedgewick here.

George Baker stars as Chief Inspector Fred Davy, whom Miss Marple becomes acquainted with. I’ve seen George Baker in ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’ and the ‘Doctor Who’ TV tale called ‘Full Circle’.

It was nice to see George Baker in this ‘Miss Marple’ production and it’s interesting how he plays a laid back but very competent police inspector. He enjoys having tea and scones at Bertram’s Hotel. 🙂

Caroline Blakiston stars as Bess Sedgwick in the story. Apprently she played Mon Mothma in ‘Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi’. It was interesting how her character’s involved in the murder.

The cast also includes Joan Greenwood (in one of her last roles) as Lady Selina Hazy. There’s James Cossins, whom I’ve seen in the ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode ‘The Hotel Inspectors’, as Colonel Luscombe.

There’s Helena Michell as Elvira Blake; Irene Sutcliffe as Miss Gorringe; Donald Burton as the voice of the TV commentator and Peter Baldwin as Mr. Humfries. There were also some ‘Doctor Who’ faces.

Preston Lockwood (who I’ve seen in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Snakedance’) stars as Canon Pennyfather the vicar. There is Edward Burnham (from ‘The Invasion’ and ‘Robot’) as Dr. Whittaker.

Whilst there is a downbeat ending in this version of the story, I did like how it tries to fool the audience into thinking who did the murder. You’d think it was one person, but then it’s another one.

I enjoyed the 1987 TV adaptation of ‘At Bertram’s Hotel’. I would say this version was closer to the book compared to the ITV version. The doppelgänger element however is still confusing in watching it.

‘At Bertram’s Hotel’ (1987) rating – 8/10

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