While Peter is on a governmental mission, Harriet attends a reunion at Oxford and is recruited to find the author of a rash of vicious poison pen letters there.




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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Sheila Burrell ...
Dr. Baring
Carol MacReady ...
Miss Martin
Dilys Hamlett ...
Miss Devine
Miss Burrows
Miss Lydgate
Charmian May ...
Miss Hillyard
Auriol Smith ...
Miss Barton
Charlotte West-Oram ...
Miss Pyke
Nina Edwards ...
Miss Chilperic
Desmond McNamara ...
Eileen Bell ...
Carrie Sadler
Annie Wilson


Harriet Vane attends a reunion at her Oxford College and is asked by the Warden to investigate a series of poison pen notes that several members of staff have received. She takes up residence in the college and receives one of these notes herself. In the cloistered environment of the school, there is any number of possible suspects. In the absence of a motive however, it is difficult to determine if the culprit is a member of staff, a student or even if it is a man or a woman. When Lord Peter Wimsey visits the college - as much to see Harriet as for anything else - he agrees to assist in the investigation. What he finds is that one member of the staff had reason to seek vengeance. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

13 May 1987 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


The poem that Harriet quotes from in conversation with the Dean is The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth. See more »


Lord Peter Wimsey: This bowtie is a mess.
Bunter: Yes, too perfect. Quite like a made-up affair.
[Wimsey pulls off the tie and begins to re-tie it]
Bunter: Ah.
Lord Peter Wimsey: Bunter, what does "ah" mean?
Bunter: I have observed, my lord, that on the few occasions when our sangfroid slips, it means we have a rendezvous with Miss Vane.
Lord Peter Wimsey: Bunter, you have a wonderful gift for impudence.
Bunter: Thank you, my lord.
[Wimsey finishes re-tying]
Lord Peter Wimsey: Bunter, how's that?
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Pop Goes the Weasel
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User Reviews

Unworldly, but fascinating.
7 August 2000 | by (Derbyshire, UK) – See all my reviews

"Gaudy Night" was the second of Dorothy L. Sayers's "Lord Peter Wimsey" detective novels to be written with the action and plot seen through the eyes of Harriet Vane rather than Wimsey himself. When transferred to the screen, this results in poor Wimsey being relegated almost to a supporting actor. Apart from one or two brief introductory appearances, he appears only in the last half of the series.

Still, the plot holds things together quite well. Detective novelist Harriet Vane has lived down the notoriety of having been accused of murdering her lover. She accepts an invitation to revisit her alma mater, a ladies' college in Oxford. Shortly after she renews her acquaintance with her former fellow-students and tutors, someone starts playing distasteful pranks around the college. The Warden and the other dons ask Harriet to investigate. Wimsey, her suitor, joins the investigation when the practical jokes become more dangerous. Finally, there is the long-standing romantic tension between Wimsey and Harriet to resolve.

Edward Petherbridge plays Wimsey very much in the style set by Ian Carmichael in the 1970's. However, Harriet Walter, as Harriet Vane, rather steals the show.

This is definitely not a stock "Whodunnit". Without laying it on with a trowel, "Gaudy Night" highlights the difference in attitudes between a withdrawn set of cloisters which need deal only with matters of philosophy and theory, and the "real world", with practical problems to face and overcome. This gulf is emphasised by the cut-glass accents and precise diction of the dons and students, and the "common" speech of the college servants and other inhabitants of Oxford, where they appear.

Worth both watching and reading.

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