Having been reading some Miss Marple novels I rented on a whim the 1980s Joan Hickson-starring adaptation of one of them (The Body In The Library). I remember being quite an avid fan of this series when small – watching it again, while knowing who dunnit from the off, let me concentrate more on the performances, attitudes, direction etc. To wit:

1. The whole thing is agonisingly slow – a lot of old TV is slow, of course (in fact, “when did TV start to speed up?” is an intriguing question), but with a murder mystery you have license to tease the audience outrageously with langorous focus on things that might, just might, be significant, but of course aren’t, though they take up plenty of your running time.

2. Much of the reason for taking it nice and slow is so the National Trustiness of it all can more gently effuse – lots of shots of leafy lanes, branches wistfully waving, mobcaps, village shops, lovely antique chairs, &c &c.

3. Is there still an audience for 2? Or at least as presented in quite so patrician a form – all old colonels, ladies, servants (I guess that within Christie’s oeuvre Marple is where she indulges – and mocks – this stuff a lot) (edit it seems there is)

4. Looking at almost any of the actors in this on the IMDB you get the sense that the collected works of A.Christie have formed a gigantic pension fund for THE ENTIRE BRITISH ACTING PROFESSION! Almost all of them have previous and the only ones who don’t have subsequent don’t have it because they DIED (or in one case got a star role in Allo Allo!)

5. Joan Hickson had more previous than most – something I had forgotten/never realised is how very sinister and unpleasant her Jane Marple is – this cold birdlike individual who spends most of her time in silent contempt at…everything. She is a more horrible figure than any of the grubby evil she confronts and there’s something of the ancient and archetypal about her too – a Fury maybe.