Marple on TV - Full Episodes Guide
Agatha Christie wrote 12 Marple mystery novels and two books containing collections of short stories. The ITV TV series ‘Marple’ goes beyond the Marple Mysteries and covered 6 seasons from 2004 – 2014 with 23 episodes. Some of the later episodes cover the other mystery novels written by Agatha Christie but added Miss Marple as a character to them – with admittedly varying degrees of success. Where Marple quite naturally fitted into the plots of Towards Zero and Murder is Easy, the same can’t be said of the adaptations of ‘Why Didn’t the Ask Evans’, ‘By The Pricking of My Thumbs’ and ‘The Sittaford Mystery’. Below is the full ITV Marple series episodes list as well as some details you may find interesting.
Table of Contents
Marple Season One - all starring Geraldine McEwan as Miss Jane Marple (2004)
Deviating from the original plot in parts with changes to some of the characters, the main elements of the murder remain the same as the novel. Geraldine McEwan stars as Miss Marple alongside Joanna Lumley, Ben Miller, Jamie Theakston, Tara Fitzgerald and Mary Stockley. Fans of Joan Hickson found adapting to a ‘new’ Marple tricky with this first episode by Geralding McEwan is a firm favourite Marple with many.
Staring Jane Asher, Mark Gatis (who went on to appear in the Poirot episode ‘Appointment with Death’ along with Christina Cole who plays Lettice Prothero in this Marple episode. This is a close adaptation to the original novel and for that reason many people have this as one of their favourites or best episodes from the Marple series.
One of my favourite Agatha Christie novels and one of my favourite Marple episodes. The Crackenthrope’s come across as unlikable characters and are well played. Ben Daniels as Alfred will truly make your skin crawl. Starring Amanda Holden, Griff Rhys Jones, Rob Brydon and John Hannah (another actor to later appear in Poirot ‘Appointment with Death’. The plot is fairly faithful to the original and I always enjoy this as a festive Christmas episode to watch while wrapping gifts – with a damson gin or sherry of course!
Did you know:
The interior of Rutherford Hall was actually filmed at Highclere Castle in Newbury where Downton Abbey is famously filmed.
Fans of the Poirot series will be surprised to see our favourite Ariadne Oliver actress appearing in a Marple – but Zoe Wanamaker makes for a brilliant Letitia Blacklock. Alexander Armstrong appears in the role of the investigating officer alongside Keele Hawes and Claire Skinner (who later also appears in ‘Cat Among the Pigeons’ as Eileen Rich. For many people this is the best episode of season one of Marple. Faithful to the original story with some great performances.
Marple Season Two - all starring Geraldine McEwan as Miss Jane Marple (2006)
A not a great production of what is actually the very last Marple novel. The plot deviates a lot from the original – unnecessarily in my opinion – and unfortunately I find the portrayal of Gwen just makes her quite unlikable, but perhaps that’s just me!
If you don’t mind plot deviations though the story they actually come up with is still interesting and for some worth watching as an episode ‘inspired by’ a Christie novel. A strong cast including Sophia Miles, Peter Serafinowicz, Dawn French (who is now appearing in the new Death on the Nile Brannagh film), Paul McGann (who also plays Dr Lord in the Poirot episode Sad Cypress) Phil Davis, Martin Kemp and finally Aidan McArdle who also later appeared in Poirot’s ‘Curtain’ episode.
A much better episode than the previous one for me – it sticks much more closely to the original story and Emelia Fox is great in the role of Joanna Burton alongside James D’Arcy (who later appears in the Poirot episode ‘The Mystery of the Blue Train’. Jessica Hynes, Harry Enfield and Kelly Brook also appear in this episode. Talulah Riley who plays Megan previously played Angela Young in the Poirot episode ‘Five Little Pigs’.
Originally a Tommy and Tuppence Beresford mystery, Marple has been added to this story – this means that there’s a chance that fans of Marple and the Beresfords could both be disappointed! On the other hand, if you like a good mystery and want to look at the glass half full you get two for one with this episode!
The cast includes Greta Sacchi, Michelle Ryan, Charles Dance (who also appeared in a later adaptation of ‘And Then There Were None’ as Justice Wargrave) and Leslie Phillips.
Now, one of my absolute favourite novels by Agatha Christie is ‘The Sittaford Mystery’. Emily Trefusis is one of the best female protagonists Christie created and I love the ambience of the novel and the mystery and solution are brilliant. So if, like me, you feel strongly about the novel, you will be frustrated by this episode. The best way to appreciate this is to view it as another episode ‘inspired’ by Agatha Christie – In all honesty, I would prefer to listen to a dramatised audiobook than watch this adaptation.
Timothy Dalton plays ‘Clive’ Trevelyn with Zoe Telford as Emily and Laurence Fox as James Pearson (cousin of Emelia Fox who appeared in The Moving Finger). Again, I find the portrayals do not make the characters particularly likeable – possibly I’m blinkered due to my love of the original story though.
Marple Season Three - all starring Geraldine McEwan as Miss Jane Marple (2007/8)
A bit far removed from the original novel but over all it’s is a good adaptation and I have to admit I really liked Martine McCutcheon and Stephen Mangan together in this. Fans of the original story should not be disappointed – the opening sequence with everyone arriving at the hotel is excellent and really well done with pace and excitement.
Not an original Marple novel this is one of the better adaptations where Marple has been added to the story. The character fits in well and the story is plausibly created – very different from the later three part mini series adaptation in 2018 written by Sarah Phelps! If you’re deciding which one to watch of the two definitely opt for the Marple TV episode version and NOT the Sarah Phelps one (sorry!).
The cast include Denis Lawson, Juliet Stevenson, Tom Riley (who goes on to appear in the Poirot episode Appointment with Death’) and Julian Rhind-Tutt who also later appeared as Michael Garfield in the Poirot episode ‘Hallowe’en Party’). Strong cast, Juliet Stevenson is brilliant and faithful to the original story (with Marple added) – its good!
Another adaptation of a ‘non-Marple’ novel but again this is done well. Miss Marple fits into the story well to replace the investigating character of MacWhirter. Miss Marple is a friend of Lady Tressilian invited to stay with them (arguably more likely than the appearance of MacWhirter in the origianl!) so I like this adaptation. Minor deviations and perhaps I don’t buy into the optimistic love between two of the characters at the end but again, I’m not sure I buy into it at the end of the novel either…
All the cast is strong and Greg Wise is excellent as Nevile Strange. Well worth a watch.
Oh dear – good casting and acting but the story is just too bizarre and so far removed from the original that I struggle with this one. As a story in its own right it’s good but this is NOT Nemesis by Agatha Christie. Given that Nemesis is a follow on from A Caribbean Mystery, and this hasn’t yet appeared as an episode they had no choice but to amend it but I wouldn’t call this ‘Nemesis’.
Laura Michelle Kelly and Richard Grant stand out in this episode and carry it for me.
Marple Season Four - all starring Julia McKenzie as Miss Jane Marple (2009)
Faithful to the original novel this is a great introductory episode for Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple. She does justice to the role and this adaptation is close to the plot of the novel by Christie.
The cast is really strong with Anna Madeley, Rupert Graves, Ralf Little, Helen Baxendale and Wendy Richard. I really recommend this one.
Another episode where Miss Marple has been added in and although the story starts off in line with the original novel it deviates towards then end dramatically and not for the better. I don’t like the ending and found it a bit over the top – personally, I don’t think there would have been anything wrong with sticking to the original story with the addition of Marple.
The cast is good with Benedict Cumberbatch, Shirley Henderson, Anna Chancellor and Lyndsey Marshal who later went on to play Agatha Christie herself in ‘Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar’ in a 2019 TV film. Russell Tovey plays PC Reed and Poirot fans may recognise him as Lionel Marshall in the 2001 Poirot episode ‘Evil Under the Sun’.
Finally an actual Marple novel and one that stays close to the plot. This is a good production and one of the better adaptations if you’re looking for something faithful to the original plot and characters.
With none other than Joan Collins playing the role of Ruth Van Rydock the episode also stars Brian Cox, Tom Payne and Sarah Smart.
Not one of the better episodes, in fact one of the worst! Despite the strong cast the story is completely re-written and comes across as very disjointed and overly complicated.
The cast includes Helen Lederer, Richard Briers, Georgia Tennant, Natalie Dormer, Rik Mayall and Samantha Bond.
Marple Season Five - all starring Julia McKenzie as Miss Jane Marple (2010)
The original novel ‘the Pale Horse’ by Agatha Christie doesn’t include Marple but her character has been added in well to this adaptation making her a friend of Father Goring. The plot stays close to the original and over all although its not the best of adaptations its also far from being the worst! I would certainly rather watch this than the 2020 mini series of the Pale Horse with Rufus Sewell.
The cast includes some faces which fans of the Poirot series may recognise – JJ Field played Simon Doyle in the ‘Death on the Nile’ episode and Jonathan Cake who plays Mark Easterbrook played John Christow in the Hollow. Holly Valance and Sarah Alexander also feature along with a brief appearance of Nicholas Parsons as Father Goring.
Filming took place in Buckinghamshire at Hughendon Manor which is also where they filmed the 2017 film of ‘Crooked House’ which starred Gillian Anderson.
Another episode where Miss Marple has been added in and as a huge fan of the original novel I find this episode disappointing. There are some really wonderful characters in the original novel and unfortunately the Anthony Cade and Virginia Revel of the TV episode just don’t do them justice – and don’t get me start on the ending!!! That being said – if you aren’t familiar with the original novel, taken on its own the story created isn’t that bad. Another one which I would call ‘inspired by’ the novel rather than an adaptation of it.
The cast includes Ruth Jones and Mathew Horne who many know from the popular show ‘Gavin and Stacey’. Michelle Collins plays Treadwel and Adam Godley is good in the role of Lomax.
Filing took place at Hatfield House
Originally a story from the Marple collection ‘The 13 Problems’ the episode takes the short story and adds to it whilst keeping the original mystery at it’s heart. For this and the strong script and acting it is one of the better productions, better than the first two episodes in this season.
This episode has some particularly strong actors with Sharon Small (Mary Prichard), Toby Stevens (George Prichard), Claudi Blakely (Phillipa Prichard), Joanna Page (Hester) and Claire Rushbrook (Caroline)
This is a really good episode – its faithful to the original novel and the casting and production is again really good. Fans of the origianl story should not be too disappointed.
Joanna Lumley plays Dolly Bantry again and is fantastic in this her second appearance in the role. Lindsay Duncan is a perfect Marina Greg too as is Caroline Quentin as Heather Badcock
Marple Season Five - all starring Julia McKenzie as Miss Jane Marple (2014)
This is a good TV adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel – it stays close to the original story line and fans of the 1983 film with Helen Hayes should find enough differences to be entertained. Although this should have come before the filming of ‘Nemesis’, it’s a good opening episode for the final season and works well. Downsides? There is more emphasis on voodoo but that didn’t bother me too much – I know some fans were more annoyed with a guest appearance of ‘Ian Flemming’ as a hotel guest…still well worth a watch though.
Charity Wakefield is strong in the role of Molly Kendall along side Robert Web as Tim. Warren Brown plays Jackson and Hermione Norris and Alistaire Mackenzie play the Hillingdon’s. Filming took place in South Africa rather than the Caribbean
This episode is based on two short stories by Agatha Christie – ‘Greenshaw’s Folly’ and ‘The Thumb Mark of St Peter’ both involving Miss Marple but in seperate short story collections. Here the performances are strong and the stories interwoven well – it’s a decent watch and the scenes with Julia Mckenzie and young Bobby Smalldridge as Archie are very endearing.
Both Martin Compston (Alfred) and Fiona Shaw (Katherine Greenshaw) give great performances – Poirot fans will recognise Kinbery Nixon (Louisa) as ‘Egg’ from Three Act Tragedy. Joanna David (Grace Richie) also previously appeared as Emma Crackenthorpe in the 1987 TV film of ‘4.50 from Paddington’. Both Joanna David and Julia Sawalha (Mrs Cresswell) appeared together back in 1995 in the ever popular series of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with Collin Firth.
Filming took place at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, England which was also used for scenes in episodes of ‘The Crown’ and the film ‘The Favourite’.
A much more sinister and dark production to end the season with. The original novel by Agatha Christie did not include Marple so this is the last time we have her character added into the story for the sake of the TV episodes and for me it’s not one that works as well as say ‘Towards Zero’. Basically – if you’ve read the novel, you wont like the addition of Miss Marple, if you’ve not read the story and aren’t familiar with it – you probably will like it! The novel was one of Christie’s more darker novels and there are some definitely creepy moments in it. I personally found it a bit slow and it’s not one I could watch again and again. The acting is a bit lack-lustre for me and I just don’t warm to any of them. But watch it and see what you think!
Tom Hughes plays Mike Rogers and Joanna Vanderham is Ellie – Tamzin Outhwaite appears as Mrs Rogers and Birgitte Hjort Sorensen is Gretta.
The street scenes were filmed in Dorchester on Thames, Oxfordshire and the home build for Mike and Ellie by Robbie is ‘The Homewood’ in Surrey.
Summary of the Series - Best and Worst
For me, the 6 series and be summed up as ‘Starts and ends strong with some serious wobbles in the middle’. Unlike the Poirot series which stay close to the novels and original plots by Agatha Christie, much more poetic licence has been taken in the Marple series. The first first episodes are faithful to the original novels by Agatha Christie for me season 1 is best in terms of story. I personally prefer Julia McKenzie as Marple so my favourites are: The Pale Horse, The Blue Geranium, The Mirror Crack’d, A Caribbean Mystery and Greenshaw’s Folly.
After season 1, the series start to go off at a tangent by adding Marple into too many ‘non-Marple’ stories and re-writing them to the point in which some even have different murderers! I would describe ‘The Sittaford Mystery’, ‘The Secret of Chimneys’, ‘Why Didn’t They Ask Evens’ and ‘Murder is Easy’ as inspired by Agatha Christie’s novels but nothing more. In terms of the best ‘non-Marple’ episodes these are definitely ‘Towards Zero’, ‘Ordeal by Innocence’ and ‘The Pale Horse’.
For fans of the original novels, the series is rescued and brought back on track with season 5 coming back to the original Marple stories and sticking to the plots by Christie. ‘A Caribbean Mystery’ kicks of the last season well before it goes a bit more downhill again – that being said they are both still far better than the final episodes (episode 4) of seasons 2, 3 & 4 which all seem to save their worst episode for the end. ]
However, if you take each episode as a single story in it’s right and forget the originals, you can get a lot of enjoyment from each one as the stories are all interesting and will keep you on your toes – after all, given we all love a good mystery so much, the changes added certainly do keep you guessing even if you’re familiar with the stories so there is that benefit. The most important thing for me is that these TV adaptations introduce new people to the wonderful world of Agatha Christie and the fantastic, sharp witted and even sharper tongued character of Miss Marple.
Best Marple TV Episodes
Worst Marple TV Episodes
Nope, I’m not even putting in the link for how to view them, they’re that disappointing 😉
The Secret of Chimneys
Season 5: episode 2
If you know and love the novel then this is not for you – save yourself the heartache and listen to the audiobook instead – but if you want to watch a ‘new’ story then you might like this!
Murder is Easy
Season 4: episode 2
Another rewrite of much of the story – even Benedict Cumberbatch can’t save it I’m afraid!
The Sittaford Mystery
Season 2: episode 4
If you know and love the novel then this is not for you – save yourself the heartache and listen to the audiobook instead!
Season 3: episode 4
A complete rewrite of the story and overly complicated and disjointed plus out of sequence as ‘A Caribbean Mystery’; should have come first.
Why Didn't They Ask Evans
Season 4: episode 4
Another rewrite of the story and overly complicated and disjointed. Not a good ‘adaptation’.