‘The Murder at the Vicarage’ (1986) (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Vicarage Murder with Joan Hickson’s Marple

The fifth story of the ‘Miss Marple’ series starring Joan Hickson is ‘The Murder at the Vicarage’. This is presented as a 1 hour 42 minute TV movie. It’s based on the original 1930 book by Agatha Christie.

‘The Murder at the Vicarage’ was shown on the 25th of December 1986. So there was like a long gap in between ‘A Pocketful of Rye’ and this. Surprised this wasn’t shown on the 25th of December 1985.

Of course this was a Christmas Day TV item. It must’ve been nice for those watching this TV adaptation of ‘The Murder at the Vicarage’ at Christmas 1986. I would’ve liked to have seen this too.

I’ve seen the ITV version of the story before this BBC version and it’s interesting to see a difference between the two. In the ITV version, Miss Marple had an accident and caused her to be immobilised.

This is not the case for the BBC version as Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple was doing the garden to witness the events of how the murder took place. I was surprised she did not have an accident here.

In the story, an odious magistrate called Colonel Lucius Protheroe gets murdered in the idyllic village of St. Mary Mead where Miss Marple lives. Colonel Protheroe’s body gets found in the vicar’s study.

The wife of said colonel and her lover, a portrait painter, confess to committing the crime. As the police make their investigations, Miss Marple suspects there’s more to the obvious confession made.

This ‘Miss Marple’ TV adaptation features Paul Eddington as Reverend Leonard Clement. I was pleased to see Paul Eddington. He starred in ‘The Good Life’, ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes Prime Minister’.

Of course, Paul Eddington doesn’t do comedy in this role he’s playing here. It’s refreshing to see an actor who can do a sitcom as well as a crime drama separately. Those are often the really best ones.

I do like seeing how we come back to Miss Marple’s territory in her home village. Sometimes her character can take a while to get involved in the plot, but she has this polite eccentricity about her. 🙂

Joan Hickson of course is excellent as Miss Marple and has taken the character in her stride. By the way, it’s pretty intriguing how the opening and closing credits have changed with new colour images.

David Horovitch returns as Detective Inspector Slack in the story. Slack made his first appearance in the ‘Miss Marple’ series in ‘The Body In The Library’. It’s interesting to see him back for this TV story.

A similarity between the ITV and BBC versions is that Slack was in both of them. However, Slack was more accommodating and friendly in the ITV version whereas in the BBC version he’s not so friendly.

Slack was also serving under Colonel Melchett in ‘The Body In The Library’ whereas he’s taking full charge of the investigation here. Slack reluctantly seeks Miss Marple’s help and her analytical ways.

The guest cast also includes Cheryl Campbell as Griselda Clement, the vicar’s wife. Cheryl Campbell has done some drama shows on TV. These include ‘Testament of Youth’ and ‘Pennies From Heaven’.

There’s Robert Lang as Colonel Protheroe who gets murdered. Robert Lang has been in TV productions like TV versions of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ and ‘Our Mutual Friend’.

There’s Polly Adams as Ann Protheroe, the colonel’s wife and there’s James Hazeldine as Lawrence Redding. It was intriguing to see this version of the tale and find how they’re involved in the murder.

There’s also Jack Galloway as Bill Archer, Rosalie Crutchley as Mrs. Price-Ridley, Norma West as Mrs. Lestrange and Christopher Good as Christopher Hawes. All of the cast deliver superb performances.

The 1986 TV adaptation of ‘The Murder at the Vicarage’ is very good. It’s different compared to the ITV version. I enjoyed how Miss Marple gets involved, seeing Slack return and seeing Paul Eddington.

‘The Murder at the Vicarage’ (1986) rating – 8/10

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