Entertainment

Breakfast is awfully ghastly with Agatha Christie’s murderous clan: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last weekend’s TV

Ordeal by Innocence

Rating: Breakfast is awfully ghastly with Agatha Christie's murderous clan: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last weekend's TV

Jesus’s Female Disciples

Rating: Breakfast is awfully ghastly with Agatha Christie's murderous clan: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last weekend's TV

Why is Gwenda the scheming secretary (Alice Eve) so desperate to marry her boss in the Agatha Christie drama Ordeal By Innocence (BBC1)?

Bill Nighy’s character, Leo, may be the head of the Argyll clan, but he’s twice her age and then some. He’s such a stuffy old bore that even the furniture in his remote mansion looks utterly fed up with him.

To be sure, he owns that grand house, so huge that it has its own underground nuclear bunker at the end of the servants’ corridor. But if he’s that wealthy, how come the family has just the one maid, the highly strung Kirsten (Morven Christie), who is cook, cleaner, babysitter, butler and perhaps head murderer, too?

Bill Nighy¿s character, Leo, may be the head of the Argyll clan, but he¿s twice her age and then some. He¿s such a stuffy old bore that even the furniture in his remote mansion looks utterly fed up with him

Bill Nighy¿s character, Leo, may be the head of the Argyll clan, but he¿s twice her age and then some. He¿s such a stuffy old bore that even the furniture in his remote mansion looks utterly fed up with him

Bill Nighy’s character, Leo, may be the head of the Argyll clan, but he’s twice her age and then some. He’s such a stuffy old bore that even the furniture in his remote mansion looks utterly fed up with him

And then there’s the children. Who in their right mind would be stepmother to that vile brood? Every breakfast is an exercise in reducing each other to tears. Even Gwenda admits it is putting her off her morning grapefruit.

But that’s what is so richly entertaining about an Agatha Christie. People do dreadful things, simply because they are so very dreadful. Gwenda is intent on marrying aristocratic Leo because she is Ghastly and Common.

What else can you expect of a woman like her? We know she’s common because she lies in the garden with an aluminium collar to reflect the sun’s rays under her chin to give her an even colour. It’s the Fifties equivalent of a spray tan.

Today, Gwenda would be a shallow celeb on some murderous reality show like TOWIE — The Only Way Is Execution.

The people may be awful, but the production is sumptuous. Director Sandra Goldbacher understands that classic crime is highly choreographed, like a dance, and she reflects that in the way suspects are shifted in and out of shot.

With the whole tribe gathered around that poisonous breakfast table, one by one they fell away — storming out of the room, slinking off or simply fleeing in tears — until only the mouse-like Tina (Crystal Clarke) remained. A clue, perhaps . . . or just a red herring next to the morning kippers.

And as the four surviving Argyll children stood watching at the window, they peeled off one at a time, like bathing beauties diving into a pool in a Busby Berkeley spectacular. The whole production is glorious to behold.

Their boasts at the start of the documentary were ambitious: ¿Nearly a quarter of the world¿s population will have to rethink the origins of their faith . . . This has the potential to change everything.¿

Their boasts at the start of the documentary were ambitious: ¿Nearly a quarter of the world¿s population will have to rethink the origins of their faith . . . This has the potential to change everything.¿

Their boasts at the start of the documentary were ambitious: ‘Nearly a quarter of the world’s population will have to rethink the origins of their faith . . . This has the potential to change everything.’

However unlikely next week’s solution to the murder, it can’t be less plausible than the theories touted by feminist theologians Helen Bond and Joan Taylor in Jesus’s Female Disciples: The New Evidence (C4).

Their boasts at the start of the documentary were ambitious: ‘Nearly a quarter of the world’s population will have to rethink the origins of their faith . . . This has the potential to change everything.’

PRIORITIES OF THE WEEKEND 

Mum Louisa (Keeley Hawes) in The Durrells (ITV) might not always be able to feed her family, but she ordered a crate of champers for her guests. And when that ran out, there was a vat of cooking sherry on hand.

But their evidence was next to non-existent. Mary Magdalene was included as one of the Disciples, because her name means ‘Mary the Tower’ — a nickname, just as Simon Peter means ‘Simon the Rock’. One line in St Luke’s gospel was cited, because it named two women, Joanna and Susanna, as followers of Jesus.

And that was it. The rest of Bond and Taylor’s case consisted of complaints that All Men Are Rotten Lying Swine and have been for 2,000 years.

Weirdly, they ignored the fact that, for its first 250 years, Christianity really was a religion for women and slaves.

Writers from Ben-Hur’s Lew Wallace, to Gore Vidal in his novel Julian, have always highlighted that.

Wallace and Vidal were male, of course. Rotten lying swine, probably.

~Source reference~