Friday, 22 April 2011

Miss Marple

I’m incredibly late to the game in so many areas it’s untrue (that’s how Brits say 'it’s unreal’).  I could easily give several examples, but I’ll get to the point and confess that I’ve just discovered Miss Marple on the telly.  Sure, I’ve skipped across her here and there whilst channel surfing.  I sometimes land on Poirot for a few minutes, but I’ve never watched one of them from beginning to end either but at least the clothes are more interesting.

It was Bill’s idea to order the Miss Marple series and we’ve been thoroughly enjoying them, though on our DVDs the programmes don’t appear to be in the order they would have appeared on TV.  I've looked up the dates in which the videos were produced; also the year the books were published.  The next time we go through we can watch them in a more sensible order.  I would guess that Miss Marple was quite well off living in a thatched cottage with a fair sized garden.  She also seems to hang out with a number of women with the title ‘Lady’ and her best friends are either wives of Vicars or Colonels, which would suggest connections to upper class.  Her nephew can afford to send her to the Bahamas for a holiday.  So you see, there are quite a few clues in addition to her accent.  Wikipedia gives a more informed overview of her situation, presumably having already watched all the films and read all the books.

This isn’t the inter war period, like Poir0t, but it’s good all the same.  The videos were produced in 1984 and 1992 and seem to include post WWII details.  The first book was written in 1930, and a couple in 1942, but most of them appeared in the 50's and 60's.  However, the videos are considered a good example of 'heritage television' and that may well be why we enjoy them so much.

I think Miss Marple is a role model of sorts, being as how she's interested in gardening and knitting as well as murders.  True, she’s an old busybody, but that’s part of her information gathering nature of course.  Her clothes are very staid and predictable, as they tended to be here in the 1950s.  Nothing I’m keen to wear, but she did have some nice silk shirt dresses in the warm weather of the Bahamas.   She is a master in the art of courtesy, a mixture of assertiveness and self-effacement.  She's entirely unintimidated by men of authority or wealth, completely comfortable with people in all stations of life.

Although I’ve lived here for 15 years, I still struggle with some of the English accents on videos and often put on the sub-titles so that I catch all the dialogue.  In this case, however, Bill got a special price on the video set as the subtitles are in Dutch – only in Dutch - and they can’t be turned off.   As one does with lemons, Bill amuses himself with finding quaint Dutch words for things.  I’m so enthralled with watching old age and dignity I don’t much notice the text any more.  She’s not pretty, but many of us aren’t or won’t be.  That doesn’t seem to bother her much at all.  You might notice that some of my posts are labeled ‘vanity’.  Though I’m fairly interested in make-up and hairstyle and clothes, beyond being appropriate and presenting my best self for the day, the obsessional end of that spectrum seems rather foolish to me.  There are differing views about what constitutes aging gracefully, but I’m thinking Miss Marple is a fine example of one approach.

Joan Hickson was 78 when she began filming the Miss Marple series, the oldest woman to have a contract for a major television series according to her obituary.  She died in 1998, aged 92.  Looking at her birth date (1906), I’m thinking maybe she qualifies as ‘interwar’ and I may need to see about finding some of her other work. 

If you haven’t seen the Miss Marple series, I can highly recommend it!  Of course there are also the books.  Strangely, I’ve never got into Agatha Christie before, but there is a first for everything, isn’t there?


Jg. for FatScribe said...

yes, loves me some Jane Marple. Joan was great as the spry old gal from St. Mary Mead, but I absolutely loved Geraldine McEwan's version best.

Bev said...

I absolutely adore this series, whether Joan Hickson or Geraldine McEwan. Oddly, I watched all the videos (in no particular order) before I read the books. The older I become, the more respect I have for Agatha Christie.

Shelley said...

Interesting to re-read this post after so long. I still haven't read any Agatha Christie. I wonder why not?