Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death aired on Sky 1 this evening,with Ashley Jensen playing the eponymous Agatha. It was based on the book of the same name written by M.C. Beaton, a prolific and extremely popular author of light mysteries. She also created Hamish Macbeth, who made the transition to television almost twenty years ago. I read a couple of the Macbeth books, but I've never read the Agatha Raisin series, so I am not sure how faithful the screenplay was to the original.
It's essentially a comedy thriller, and I've seen it described in the media as something of a reaction to dark and broodiing Scandinavian dramas.(My own feeling on that score is that there is, and always should be, room for all the different types of crime stories, ranging from darkest noir to fluffiest cosy and everything in between.) There are a number of shows of this type around at present - Death in Paradise and Father Brown have both enjoyed more success than many would have expected, while Grantchester has quickly earned a loyal following. As with Father Brown and Grantchester, there's more than a touch of Midsomer about the lovely rural setting of this story.
Agatha is a hard-nosed PR expert who has made a packet and sold her company so that she can relocate to a life of peace in the Cotswolds. (I also thought I spotted a scene set at the Bristol hotel which is home to Crimefest). She does not fit in to village life,and decides to cheat her way to success in the annual quiche making contest, a plan that backfires when her quiche appears to be responsible for the death by poisoning of the judge of the contest, the local Lothario.
This was a two hour show - in other words, rather longer than episodes of Father Brown and Death in Paradise - and this enabled the scriptwriter to establish the characters, and basic situation, although to me it seemed on the long side for such a lightweight piece. There were a number of good jokes, and Ashley Jensen's performance was energetic and engaging. I can't say that it had me on the edge of my seat, and it wasn't as funny or as sharp as The Wrong Mans, which returned to the screen the other day in a two-part episode that I very much enjoyed, but it passed the time pleasantly enough..