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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 19:13 GMT
Miss Marple defects to ITV
Joan Hickson
Joan Hickson played Miss Marple on the BBC
ITV has poached veteran detective Miss Marple from the BBC as part of a deal to televise Agatha Christie's novels.

The network will revive one of Christie's other characters, Hercule Poirot, with a remake of the classic Death On The Nile.

Under the deal, ITV will show 24 hours of Christie adaptations over a four year period.

It will also commission three more Poirot films, starring David Suchet.

The network will invest 18m in the productions, and is looking for an international partner for additional funding.

Granada director of drama John Whiston is now looking for a star name to play Miss Marple, with Dame Maggie Smith, Julie Walters and Prunella Scales among the names being touted.


They're going to get three or four million more viewers than they would on the BBC

John Whiston
Granada executive
"Britain has no dearth of older, posher actresses. It's a great role and you can imagine people will be keen," he said.

Joan Hickson, who played Miss Marple on the BBC, died in 1998.

Mr Whiston criticised the BBC, saying that ITV was seen as "safer hands" for the dramas, even though he believed the BBC had put in a higher bid.

"They want exposure and they want it to be successful. They're going to get three or four million more viewers than they would on the BBC," he said.

Caroline Quentin
Caroline Quentin will star in a new ITV crime drama
Mr Whiston also announced Caroline Quentin is to star in a new detective series for ITV1, which he hopes will follow in the footsteps other long-running crime dramas like Prime Suspect, Inspector Morse and A Touch Of Frost.

The actress, best known for quirky roles in shows such as Jonathan Creek and Men Behaving Badly, beings shooting her new role in Blue Murder next month.

She will play DI Janine Lewis in the Manchester-based drama, juggling a high-flying career with a trying home life.

Mr Whiston said the Christie deal and Blue Murder were proof of Granada and ITV's commitment to quality drama, adding that the BBC's approach was "crap".

A former executive at the corporation, he accused it of simply snapping up the rights to books and asking a big name writer like Andrew Davies to polish them up for TV.

He added many of its executives did not even bother to watch its popular drama such as EastEnders or Casualty.

"But if you mention the latest Arena on The Tango at the programme review board, you can't shut them up."

David Suchet
Poirot at the Palace: David Suchet returns to ITV
BBC controller of drama commissioning Jane Tranter said: "The BBC was interested in Miss Marple, but as soon as ITV stepped in we couldn't compete, or justify spending the money they were offering."

As for Mr Whiston's other comments, a spokeswoman for the corporation told BBC News Online: "You only have to look at the kind of programmes we're putting out now to ask why he is making these accusations at this time."

  • The Queen admitted she was a David Suchet fan as she awarded the Hercule Poirot actor an OBE at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.

    He said: "She said she was particularly delighted to be able to give me this award for the pleasure I had given to her and the family and the nation. It was really special."

    Suchet, most famous for his role as Agatha Christie's Belgian sleuth, said the detective would have been proud of the honour, for the actor's services to drama.

    "He would have been absolutely delighted, very honoured. He was a great follower of royalty and had a great respect for them."

  • See also:

    23 Nov 01 | Entertainment
    08 Nov 01 | Entertainment
    14 Jun 02 | Entertainment
    16 Oct 02 | Entertainment
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