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When the middle-Eastern country of Ramat is over-run by anti-monarchist revolutionaries, the surviving heir to the throne, Princess Shaista, is spirited away to safety in a small girls' school, Meadowbank, which is run by the progressive Miss Bulstrode. However, when the bullying games mistress Miss Springer is found stabbed through the chest with a javelin, it appears that Meadowbank may not be the haven it promised to be. As Poirot assists Inspector Kelsey, they begin to find that some of the staff may not be quite what they appear, a situation which is compounded when another teacher, Mademoiselle Blanche is found dead and Princess Shaista is kidnapped from the school. With the princess' life in peril, and the prized rubies of Ramat missing, it is up to Poirot to discover who is the cat among the pigeons. Written by
When Student Bodies Suffer Over a Princely Sum of Rubies
When terrorists raid a school in Switzerland, Prince Ali of Romart (Raji James) and British Security Agent Bob Rawlinson (Adam De Ville) defend the Romart crown jewels, precious rubies, which are smuggled into the United Kingdom.
Princess Shaista (Amara Karan), cousin of Prince Ali, and next in line to the Throne of Romart, arrives in England to attend "Meadowbank Independent School for Girls," as does Jennifer Sutcliffe (Jo Woodcock), a niece of Bob Rawlinson, who remember his involvement with someone named Angelica.
Mr. Forbes (Don Gallagher) and Mrs. Forbes (Georgie Glen) arrive at Meadowbank to enroll their daughter, Patricia Forbes (Georgia Cornick), a weight-challenged youngster, whom its Physical Education instructor mercilessly bullies.
Mrs. Upjohn (Pippa Haywood) also arrives to deliver her daughter, Julia Upjohn (Lois Edmett), who befriends Jennifer Sutcliffe, they exchanging tennis racquets on the court, and small-talk in their quarters, along with foreign student Hsui Tai (Katie Leung).
Miss Bulstrode (Harriet Walter) operates Meadowbank as its co-founder and Head Mistress. Miss Chadwick (Susan Wooldridge), its other co-founder, presumes to Miss Bulstrode that she stands next in line to operate the school should Miss Bulstrode proceed with her plans to retire.
Also on staff at Meadowbank are Ann Shapland (Natasha Little), its Secretary/Receptionist, who has her own office and sitting room; Miss Blake (Amanda Abbington), its free-thinking Art instructor; Miss Johnson (Carol MacReady), its housekeeper; Miss Eileen Rich (Claire Skinner), its Poetry instructor, who delivers the story's title, "Cat Among the Pigeons"; Mlle. Louise Blanche (Miranda Raison), its French instructor; and Miss Grace Springer (Elizabeth Berrington) its Physical Education instructor, who complains chronically.
On the first day of the new term, Miss Bulstrode invites one Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) to address the gathering at the Auditorium, and to present the Meadowbank Champions an award for "the Pemberton School Lacrosse Shield." She also requests his staying on a few days, in order to advise her selection of a successor from among Meadowbank's staff.
At the accompanying reception, Lady Veronica (Jane How) crashes the event in a display of eccentricity; and, as Miss Chadwick ushers her through the door, Mrs. Upjohn tells Miss Bulstrode that she is stunned to recognize from across the room "The Angel," whom she has presumed deceased.
Poirot begins his sleuthing early on, as he scrutinizes the Misses Chadwick, Shapland, Blake, Johnson, Rich, Blanche and Springer, and also the school's gardener and grounds-keeper, one Adam Goodman (Adam Croasdell), who becomes sweet on Ann Shapland. And he scrutinizes all the more once bodies begin to turn up around the campus.
One night at 12:50 AM, Miss Johnson (Carol MacReady) and Miss Chadwick (Susan Wooldridge) investigate a light in the pavilion and discover a body skewered with a javelin.
Inspector Kelsey (Anton Lesser) arrives by day to investigate the murder, as do Mr. and Mrs. Forbes, to withdraw Patricia.
The next evening, Jennifer and Julia discover the Romant rubies hidden within the handle of a tennis racquet, the means of smuggling them into the country after the revolution.
But when Ann and Adam hear Miss Chadwick's scream, they discover another body inside the pavilion, the victim of a striking with sandbag. While the second victim survives, Meadowbank continues to be over-ridden with the scandal of murder.
Plus there's an apparent kidnapping, which leads Poirot and Inspector Kelsey to "The Glass Slipper" nightclub, and a third body discovered in the boat-house by morning, another victim of a sandbag bludgeoning and also a drowning.
Hercule Poirot gathers a roomful of suspects into the Meadowbank chambers and begins to explain his suspicions, when the perpetrator of the two successful murders draws a pistol, to claim a third victim, after Mrs. Upton returns to identify "The Angel."
Miss Bulstrode, therefore, has her choices for a potential successor narrowing as the list of candidates dwindles, so will her selection process become easier or all the more difficult to bear?
The cast is rounded out by Jemma Carlisle as School Girl, Olivia Jewson as School Girl, Laura Tarrant as Jane, Fudge Hammali as Adam Trimble, and Aaron King as Teacher.
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