Tuesday 28 October 2008

Third Girl

Even though it’s a long time since I read some of her books, I find that a large number of Agatha Christie plots stick in my mind. Not just the obvious classics, but some of the more obscure stories. But one that I’ve completely forgotten is the story-line of Third Girl, an attempt to catch up with the Swinging Sixties that I didn’t rate highly when I first read it, and which most critics are quick to dismiss.

But now Third Girl has been adapted for TV, and I’ve watched David Suchet investigate the case with the assistance of Zoe Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver. Mrs Oliver is one of Christie’s most likeable characters, and the idea of casting one of our most likeable actors to play her was quite inspired. Suchet is marvellous as Poirot – as usual – when a girl arrives at his home to announce that she thinks she may have murdered someone.

The girl in question proves to be Norma Restarick, and a tale involving family complications and inheritance unfolds. Peter Bowles, a supremely urbane and charming actor, and the splendid Haydn Gwynne also feature in the cast. All in all, an enjoyable programme, despite the protracted denouement.

As for the story, the screenwriter played fast and loose with the source material. But given my uncharacteristic (I’m a real Poirot fan) lack of enthusiasm for the book, it’s strongly arguable that this is a rare example of television improving on Christie’s original.

Incidentally, later today I'll be following (in a sense) in Christie's footsteps - more on this next week.


David Cranmer said...

Agatha remains the best at the style of mystery that she created and perfected. And Then There Were None remains a personal favorite of mine. I have ever heard of Third Girl but I will keep it in mind.

Ed Gorman said...

I still keep eight Christies on hand and re-read them from time to time. I enjoy her alternate universe and the wizardy of her plotting.

Anonymous said...

I also enjoyed the adaptation of "Third Girl", and David Suchet is beyond compare as Poirot. I think it's fair to say that he's made the character his own, and created the perfect complement to Agatha Christie's plot-driven mysteries.