Home > TV and anime > Agatha Christie’s Marple: Greenshaw’s Folly (2013)

Agatha Christie’s Marple: Greenshaw’s Folly (2013)

Marple Julia McKenzie

Agatha Christie’s Marple: Season 6, episode 2. Greenshaw’s Folly (2013) is a shotgun marriage of two short stories titled “Greenshaw’s Folly” (collected in The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding) and “The Thumb Mark of St Peter” (collected in The Thirteen Problems). So the first question is whether the story is coherent. The answer is a qualified yes. We have relocated the action to a different village. Miss Marple (Julia McKenzie) is a member of the local knitting circle and as embedded in this community as she was in St Mary Mead which creates a slightly uncomfortable feeling. Anyway, we have our protective heroine offering help to a battered wife, Louisa Oxley (Kimberley Nixon) and little Archie (Bobby Smalldridge). Miss Marple has spoken with Miss Katherine Greenshaw (Fiona Shaw) who occupies the nearby country pile (it seems it’s not far because Miss Marple can apparently walk home without breaking sweat). This feisty middle-aged lady needs a secretary which creates a convenient hiding place for the desperate young lady and her gullible sprog who can be convinced there are ghosts to be seen. Despite her home-grown remedy, Katherine Greenshaw’s eyesight is failing and she still has research to be done. Lots of copy typing follows. Yet, assuming this wife and son abuser has any intelligence (he is a doctor after all), he should know of the friendship between his wife and Miss Marple, and therefore have little difficulty in tracking her down. And, indeed, so it proves as the bully is soon giving evidence of his presence.

Meanwhile, back at the Folly, we have the usual cast of likely suspects. Nat Fletcher (Sam Reid) is the good-looking actor due to take a role in the local production of A Tangled Web. Then there’s Horace Bindler (Rufus Jones), the creepy guy determined to get into the laboratory run by the now-deceased Folly owner who was a doctor. He claims he’s there to complete his investigation into the architecture of the ancestral pile but, when challenged by Miss Marple, doesn’t know wildebeest don’t have grommets on their east wings. The grounds of the Folly, yet again played by Hatfield House, are kept trim by Alfred Pollock (Martin Compston) and Father Brophy (Robert Glenister) keeps the orphans in order in the local home. Completing the lineup, Mrs Cresswell (Julia Sawalha) is the housekeeper aided by Cracken (Vic Reeves) the butler. All we need now is a crime.

The cast pose before entering battle

The cast pose before entering battle

And this comes quite quickly as Cracken is pushed off a ladder and fatally cracks his head on the marble floor in the hall. With the whisky bottle suspiciously missing amber liquid, it’s an open-and-shut case of accidental death, and so life goes on with barely a ripple, no-one remembering the butler had not touched a drop in ten years — awfully convenient mass amnesia. Then the architectural snoop also disappears. What makes this really strange is the complete absence of smell. Obviously one of the virtues of a Folly is its ability to produce instant mummification without any annoying bodily fluid dripping or flies buzzing around a few days later. Then there’s the most curious failure of the village to know Father Brophy is a hopeless drunk and heavily into gambling. Quite what he bets on to lose all the money given to the orphanage is not explained, except it seems he does take odds on whether candlesticks rattle in a carrying bag. You would also expect the village to be encyclopaedic on its own history including the remarkable number of orphans who died during the polio epidemic that swept the country — the local cemeteries must be overflowing with young occupants. And I must have switched off my mind at one point because I missed the explanation of how Alfred Pollock acquired a Scottish accent.

We then come to the core murder of Katherine Greenshaw which has the “pile of fish” and other clues from the source stories. This killing has much of the hallmark Christie ingenuity about it to change the time of death so that it does not appear anyone has the opportunity to do the dirty deed. Given the importance of time, the fact of the telephone call to Miss Marple does represent a pleasing problem to be resolved. Unfortunately, the abusive husband and mechanisms for revealing the doctor’s attempts to produce a polio vaccine are padding with the now mandatory requirement for someone to “see a ghost” — it seems almost every Miss Marple adaptation of late must have some attempt at something supernatural with voodoo in the last episode and spectral spirits in this. So putting this altogether, Greenshaw’s Folly has one or two good moments, but is ultimately rather silly with a batty local women “protecting” Archie, and the usual unlikely romantic ending.

For reviews of other Agatha Christie stories and novels, see:

Agatha Christie’s Marple (2004) — the first three episodes
Agatha Christie’s Marple (2005) — the second set of three episodes
Agatha Christie’s Marple (2006) — the third set of three episodes
Agatha Christie’s Marple (2007) — the final set of three episodes
Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Blue Geranium (2010)
Agatha Christie’s Marple: A Caribbean Mystery (2013)
Agatha Christie’s Marple: Endless Night (2013)
Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (2010)
Agatha Christie’s Marple: Murder is Easy (2009)
Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Pale Horse (2010)
Agatha Christie’s Marple: A Pocket Full of Rye (2008)
Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Secret of Chimneys (2010)
Agatha Christie’s Marple: They Do It with Mirrors (2009)
Agatha Christie’s Marple: Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (2009)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb (1993)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman (1993)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Big Four (2013)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Case of the Missing Will (1993)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Chocolate Box (1993)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Clocks (2009)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Curtain. Poirot’s Last Case (2013)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Dead Man’s Folly (2013)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Dead Man’s Mirror (1993)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Elephants Can Remember (2013)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Hallowe’en Party (2010)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan (1993)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Labours of Hercules (2013)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express (2010)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Three Act Tragedy (2011)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Underdog (1993)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Yellow Iris (1993)

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