What Happened When Marple Met Bond?


As a follow-up to my co-blogger’s previous post Agatha Christie’s Marple: A Caribbean Mystery, ITV, review, here is an article by Stephen Armstrong on what happened when Charlie Higson wrote two of his favorite sleuths into A Caribbean Mystery [also see, New Adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “A Caribbean Mystery”]—“What Happened When Marple Met Bond?” here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

Miss Marple is possibly the only detective ever to solve a murder while out collecting for the village fete. But this strength might be seen as a weakness in modern TV; even in 1961 Margaret Rutherford’s Marple added a twist – chuffing beer and fighting a duel with swords – to ginger things up. Two hours of leisurely paced investigation largely featuring a woman asking questions isn’t Misfits or Skins. So when news leaked out that The Fast Show’s Charlie Higson was adapting a Miss Marple story – A Caribbean Mystery – adding zombies and James Bond, Agatha Christie fans must have feared the worst.

So it’s reassuring to hear Higson is a true Miss Marple fan. “You have to keep within the tradition and the style of the rest of the series,” he says. “That was part of the appeal of it for me. I can’t suddenly set it in the present day…” He trails off. [. . .] But zombies? And James Bond? Higson smiles a very Hercule Poirot smile. “Look, the joy and the appeal of the mystery thriller is that you’ve got a page-turning plot and you can attach anything you like to it. If you’re Dan Brown, you can attach Dante’s Inferno. The reason the production company approached me was its tradition of trying to work genuine historical figures into these adaptations, to root the stories in a time and a place. I write the young James Bond books. This story was set in the Caribbean, so perhaps Ian Fleming could make an appearance, as he lived there. I thought, well, if I’m putting Fleming in, I’ll try to get James Bond in there.”

At this point it becomes disappointingly clear that Higson is referring to the real James Bond, an ornithologist who’d written a book about the birds of the West Indies, and whose name Fleming used for his superspy. [. . .]

[. . .] Does that mean the zombies aren’t real, either? “Well, it’s based on the ideas of voodoo, where you can get someone who’s dead but still walking around,” he says enthusiastically, a little like a schoolboy discussing his hobby. Which, in a way, he is. Pre-Fast Show Charlie was lead singer in 1980s funk-punk legends the Higsons, who made an album called Attack of the Cannibal Zombie Businessmen. So he should know his topic. “The voodoo zombie involves a witch doctor using drugs, hypnosis and mind control to make someone believe they’ve died and then, through a ritual, the voodoo priest brings them back to life. It seemed to tie in nicely with the Ian Fleming/James Bond thread. I thought the idea of using voodoo to obscure what’s really going on would add a bit of creepiness and some scares into the story. But also I thought it was a classic Agatha Christie plot device.”

And then he hesitates. He’s a Christie fan, he is keen to point out. “A Caribbean Mystery is the only Marple story in which she leaves England – but she never actually leaves the hotel. She might as well have set it in the Isle of Wight and it would have been cheaper and easier to film. “Christie liked a finite number of people in an enclosed location, so part of the brief was to open it out and to try to incorporate a bit of local life. I managed to get in a little bit about colonialism to make it more interesting.”

For full article, see http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-06-16/what-happened-when-marple-met-bond

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