Endless Night, screened this evening on ITV, made an appealing Christie for Christmas. Agatha Christie's Marple is not an entirely consistent series, but here, the Queen of Crime's last really good novel was capably adapted by Kevin Elyot, who is a seasoned writer of Christie stories for stage and screen. Introducing Jane Marple into a story in which she did not originally appear was risky, for sure. Yet on the whole Elyot did a highly professional job - even though this did entail Julia McKenzie popping up so often and so unexpectedly that she became a spookier presence than the gypsy whose curse sets the story going.
The brilliance of the original novel, lay in the fact that Christie, writing in the Sixties, repeated one of her most famous tricks, despite its being supposedly unrepeatably. I borrowed the book from the local library shortly after it first came out, and was much impressed. As a student, I also enjoyed the film version starring Hywel Bennett as Michael Rogers, the poor lad who marries a lovely heiress. The film's cast was superb - it also included the likes of Hayley Mills, Britt Ekland, George Sanders and Peter Bowles. I'd rate it as the most under-rated movie ever made of a Christie novel.
Back to tonight's show, which also had an impressive cast. Tom Hughes played Michael, while his architect pal was played by Aneurin Barnard (the young hero of Moonfleet - he's had as impressive a festive season as Jenna Coleman.) Tamzin Outhwaite was almost unrecognisable as Michael's miserable mum, while there were cameo roles for Wendy Craig and Hugh Dennis.
The unusual structure of the plot means that Endless Night is far from orthodox Christie fare. This has caused some commentators to under-estimate it. In fact, it's a good story, and although this version did not strike me as being quite as compelling as the film (though in saying that, I have to admit I've not seen the film for a very long time) nevertheless it made excellent Sunday evening entertainment.