The Little House concluded on Monday evening, with a stand-out performance from Francesca Annis as the mother-in-law from hell. I thought this was quite a good suspense story, made all the more watchable by Annis. But the action fizzled out somewhat, and I was left at the end asking myself: 'Is that it?'
I’ve also just seen Annis in an episode from Partners in Crime, playing Tuppence Beresford in Agatha Christie’s story The Crackler. This programme dates back to 1982, but again she is the outstanding performer, lifting relatively mundane material to a higher level by the sheer exuberance of her acting.
In The Crackler, Christie parodied the work of Edgar Wallace. The Beresfords are asked by Scotland Yard to help to uncover the truth behind a forgery scam, and they infiltrate the high class, yet murky, Python Club to do so. Tommy is vamped by a Frenchwoman, played by Carolle Rousseau. Rousseau, like Annis, is extremely attractive, but an internet search suggests she did not do much acting after this show.
Whereas Annis has gone from strength to strength, not least in The Little House. I hope that excellent roles for characters of her age continue to be written – they should be. Incidentally, many years ago, my own mother-in-law (who died very young and whom, sadly, I never met) taught Annis for a while. Apparently, her brilliance was evident even at a tender age. As The Little House shows, she continues to be brilliant.