Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Two current 1940s TV shows

Have you been watching Ordeal By Innocence? The BBC sneaked this Agatha Christie adaptation out quite quietly. I find it odd, both for the lack of fanfare and the time of year – And Then There Were None got a big Christmas push a couple of years ago. Without spoiling it for you, it's the story of a family - a couple and their five grown adopted children, one of whom is married. The mother is murdered, one of the two sons is accused and dies in prison... then, just as the father is about to marry again, someone arrives to provide the dead son with an alibi for the crime.

It's had a mixed reaction, which I can understand. In some ways it's very clumsily done; shots are arranged to highlight THIS IS SIGNIFICANT, and characters are overblown so every little thing they do seems sinister. Everything and anything anyone does has to appear to signify something. No-one ever just does anything. I know Agatha Christie's stuff has a reputation for being cosy, but this tries so hard to be the opposite of cosy it comes out rather silly at times. And questions do arise: in such a large house, with so many people in it, why is there only one maid? Obviously, it's because she's part of the story and they're trying to make her a focal point, and to maintain a sense of claustrophobia, but it's daft. A few silent extras and a bit of normailty wouldn't harm it.

On the plus side, Bill Nighy is fantastic - the one person who really is his character rather than flouncing around ACTING, DAHLING. The post-war costuming is super, especially the fancy frocks, though as Tina Argyll actress Crystal Clarke is the picture of librarian chic. And on the subject of Crystal Clarke, it's great to see a woman of colour getting a role in a Christie adaptation – all the Argyll children are adopted, so why not? (I suspect it makes the Waily Fail readership's heads explode, which is never a bad thing.)

Anyway, the final episode is on on Sunday, and if you can access iPlayer you can catch up with the previous episodes now.
Also in 'quietly sneaked out' news is Secret Agent Selection: WWII, which started last night. A group of volunteers are going through the original SOE (precursor to MI5/6) recruitment process, in full 1940s dress too. As in wartime, they're a diverse bunch, including a policewoman, a linguist, and an ex-soldier. The programme is intercut with brief stories about real SOE agents; the ex-soldier is an amputee and the programme talked about Virginia Hall, the 'Limping Lady', an American female amputee who trained Resistance fighters in occupied France. Last night saw the first three eliminations. I'm not usually into reality TV shows, but the history side of this is fascinating, and I guess most of us have wondered what we'd be capable of in testing times.

Again, it's on iPlayer if you fancy catching up.

14 comments :

  1. I'm loving Ordeal by Innocence, mainly because there's lots of shots of Matthew Goode with his top off. I'm happily pleased!

    The reason it was sneaked through under the radar is because it was supposed to be BBC's big Christmas Christie outing but they had to reshoot due to the allegations made against Ed Westwick. He originally played the part of Mickey, now played by Christian Cooke. Equally, this may be why it feels a bit clumsy at times.

    I haven't seen the other one, but did spot it whilst flicking through yesterday. I may give it a go if I get the chance. xx

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    1. Aha! That explains things perfectly, given the previous two Christmases big Christies. I found it funny that Aiden Turner was in And Then There Were none, and his Poldark co-star Eleanor Tomlinson is in this.

      Secret Agent Selection is fascinating and fun.

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  2. The last one sounds good, Mim, but it is back to work for me tomorrow so I will have no life after that. I do wonder how people would get on if we had the misfortune to be plunged into a WWII situation. Not as many people can or do practical things like gardening and sewing compared to then. Hope that we don't have to ever find out. :) Xx

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    1. Given the way politics is going right now, I'm considering stashing tinned food...

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  3. Always a brilliant performance with Bill Nighy!

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  4. Thanks for the Agatha Christie tip off...will be making a date with the i player!

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    1. Do it! As I say, it's a tad melodramatic, but the costumes are lovely and it is enjoyable.

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  5. I missed both of these! Quietly sneaked out indeed. I will check I player. Thanks for the heads up!

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    1. I get a weekly email from the BBC, which helps!

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  6. I haven't seen any of these, but I'd have considered the Christie for the costumes ... Sadly, the iPlayer's not available in Belgium. And Then There Were None made it to Belgian television a couple of months ago ... xxx

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  7. I love Bill Nighy - especially in The Best Marigold.
    I haven't seen this but I remember the furore regarding the allegations about one of the male cast members and the show being reshot and rescheduled from Xmas.
    Someone on Facebook has been moaning about the hair not being true to period.
    I saw that other programme being discussed on BBc Breakfast on Monday, haven't watched it but it sounded interesting. I'm too obsessed with Walter Presents and all their gory European thrillers at the moment. xxx

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  8. These both sound good. Need to get settled down with some knitting and have a catch up!

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  9. I just caught up with the final episode on the I-Player. I knew from the internet exploding they had changed the ending and I must admit I think the original ending works better. Dear god I love Eleanor Tomlinson's tartan dress though and I agree with Cate Matthew is always worth a watch!

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