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Miss Marple, Ordeal By Innocence

"It was a challenge because he has an interesting journey. Being restrained by paralysis - I thought that would be interesting to play." [1]

Richard Armitage appeared in a Miss Marple drama called "Ordeal by Innocence", first broadcast in Canada in June 2007.

It was one of the stories in the third series of Miss Marple dramas made for ITV starring Geraldine McEwan as Jane Marple, Agatha Christie's famous detective. The cast of each episode usually includes a raft of well-known British actors as guest stars - in this case, Jane Seymour, Denis Lawson, Alison Steadman and Juliet Stevenson.

Ordeal by Innocence is based on the book of the same name by Christie. It was not actually a Miss Marple novel, so the adapter (Stewart Harcourt) re-wrote the story to include her.

Richard Armitage plays Philip Durrant, the son-in-law of the murder victim, Rachel Argyle (Jane Seymour). Philip, "a bag of badness", was formerly an RAF pilot, but six months after Rachel's murder he was paralysed by polio and he now uses a wheelchair.

Rachel Argyle was a wealthy but infertile woman who adopted six children with her husband Leo (Denis Lawson). The story begins at the time of her murder at their house, Sunny Point. One of their children, Jacko (Burn Gorman), had threatened his mother earlier that evening after she had refused to give him the money he urgently needed to pay off his debts. He was convicted of her murder and hanged for it.

Two years later, Leo is about to marry his secretary, Gwenda (Juliet Stevenson). She has invited her old friend Jane Marple to Sunny Point for her wedding. But in the midst of the preparations for the marriage, Dr Arthur Calgary (Julian Rhind-Tutt) arrives to clear Jacko's name - Jacko, he says, could not possibly have killed his mother as he had given him a lift in his car at the time that she was killed.

The case is re-opened and all the members of the household come under suspicion. As the drama unfolds, it becomes clear that none of her children liked Rachel - Mary (Lisa Stansfield) who is Phillip's wife, Mickey (Bryan Dick), Hester (Stephanie Leonidas), Bobby (Tom Riley) and Tina (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Leo, Gwenda and Philip Durrant are also suspects, as is the housekeeper Kirsten Lindstrom (Alison Steadman), who helped raise the adopted Argyle children. All have motives for murdering her, and none has a cast iron alibi.

Only one of them can be guilty, but the others must suffer an Ordeal by Innocence. Inspector Huish (Reece Shearsmith) investigates the murder, but with Miss Marple in the house, it's clear who will actually solve the crime.

It's an enjoyable drama, well up to the standard of the Miss Marple series. An excellent cast keeps the viewer guessing about the identity of the murderer right up until the end.

Ordeal by Innocence was first shown in Canada in June 2007 on CBC, in the USA in August on PBS and in the UK in September on ITV1.


Wikipedia's Miss Marple page
'Miss Marple: Ordeal By Innocence' on PBS's website


[1] Chorion/ITV press pack for Miss Marple, series 3

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