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Strong Poison: Episode One 

Lord Peter Wimsey investigates after the novelist Harriet Vane is accused of poisoning her former lover.




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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Petherbridge ...
Paul Hastings ...
Philip Boyes
Derek Royle ...
The Rev. Arthur Boyes
Geoffrey Beevers ...
Ryland Vaughan
Preston Lockwood ...
Ronald Leigh-Hunt ...
Sir Impey Biggs
Derek Ensor ...
Christopher Scoular ...
David Quilter ...
Shirley Cain ...
Miss Climpson
Miss Murchison


Lord Peter Wimsey is struck all of a heap by Harriet Vane, a murder-mystery novelist who's on trial for poisoning her lover with arsenic. And when she's given a temporary reprieve, Lord Peter, together with his manservant Bunter and the incomparable Miss Climpson, must work against the calendar to prove her innocence. Written by Kathy Li

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

25 March 1987 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


Story based on "Strong Poison" by Dorothy L. Sayers. This is book number #6 in the Lord Peter Wimsey series and serves to introduce Harriet Vane, who was later featured in her own spin-off mystery series. See more »


[Peter is visiting Harriet in prison, meeting her for the first time]
Lord Peter Wimsey: But, um, you're not opposed to matrimony on principle? I mean if offered on terms not already compromised, and by the right person, naturally.
Harriet Vane: Oh, no.
Lord Peter Wimsey: Oh, that's good.
Harriet Vane: Might I ask why?
Lord Peter Wimsey: Makes it easier for me, you see.
Harriet Vane: [after a pause] Have I got this right? You are proposing marriage to me?
Lord Peter Wimsey: Absolutely right.
Harriet Vane: [laughing] Do you do this all the time, Lord Peter?
Lord Peter Wimsey: Only when I'm serious.
See more »


References Blackmail (1929) See more »

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User Reviews

It's a fairly good effort in all respects by the BBC to bring us the Harriet/Peter love affair
15 January 2005 | by (Jacksonville, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

Either from the novel or this film you might come away wondering why Lord Peter fell in love with Harriet Vane at first sight of her in the dock at the Old Bailey. Probably only Dorothy L. Sayers could explain that, and she tries throughout all three stories in this series. That he would be interested in the case, was his nature as Dorothy has presented him to us, but Harriet in the dock and afterward was such a "distant" woman to Peter's adoring advances. Would any normal suitor continue in the face of this "battlement"? Well, Lord Peter is not exactly normal. He says, repeatedly, that he admires her character and intelligence, even if she isn't "beautiful". Harriet Walter reflects all three throughout the series. Some commentators have said that Dorothy L. Sayers fell in love with "Lord Peter" and that "Harriet Vane" is a reflection of herself. It may be so, but luckily for us, Harriet Walter looks nothing like Dorothy.

The BBC has done a good job of giving us STRONG POISON (about which film these remarks are mainly directed), HAVE HIS CARCASE, and GAUDY NIGHT, with a "Harriet Vane" acted by a lady who would seem to have been born for the part. Petherbridge looks the part almost ideally, but his interpretation is somewhat more subdued than my conception of "Lord Peter" from having read the "canon" through at least half-a-dozen times since I first encountered Dorothy's sleuth about 1940. The "Bunter" we get seems a bit young, but these are minor cavils. A few strange changes were made from the novels in this otherwise faithful adaptation. For example, the action in the novel takes place around Christmas and after, with the murder having occurred in June. In the film, this sequence is reversed. I wonder why.

I suppose there are some who will see these films who have not read Sayers, so I must be careful not to spoil her rather clever denouement. My advice is, if such an one wants to play detective, to get a good poison reference source and read up on arsenic poisoning and its history. That might prove as fascinating as the film and novel!

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