Agatha Christie's Marple: Season 4, Episode 1

A Pocket Full of Rye (5 Jul. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 615 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 3 critic

A detestable businessman is murdered while at work, and a handful of rye is found in his pockets. Soon after, members of his household fall victim to a killer intent on recreating scenes from a popular nursery rhyme.


(as Charles Palmer)


(novel), (screenplay)
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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Rose Heiney ...
Rex Fortescue (as Ken Cranham)
Thea Collings ...
Professor Bernsdorrf (as Edward Tudor Pole)
Ralf Little ...
Ken Campbell ...


When Rex Fortescue dies while sitting at his desk in the City, it's determined that he was in fact poisoned. He was married to a much younger wife, who now stands to inherit. His son Percival, a partner in the family firm, was a disappointment to him and a daughter, Elaine, hasn't amounted to much. Another son, Lance, had a falling out with his father many years before and relocated to East Africa. He suddenly appears soon after his father's death claiming that they had reconciled and been invited by him to return to England with an offer to rejoin the firm. Miss Marple takes a particular interest in the case when her former maid Gladys, now working in the Fortescue household, is also murdered. She soon learns that the elder Fortescue had received veiled threats for some time and that they might have something to do with a long ago business deal that made his initial fortune. Written by garykmcd

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Crime | Drama


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5 July 2009 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Julia McKenzie's debut as Miss Marple
21 May 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's been many years since I've read the books, but it's my understanding that while the stories McEwan appeared in were rewritten Christie, this one, "A Pocketful of Rye" is more faithful to the book. Perhaps this bodes well for the McKenzie series.

The story concerns the Fortescue household - its patriarch, Rex, is poisoned. It comes out that he was running his business into the ground, according to his son Percival, who worked in the family firm.

Marple becomes involved when her former maid, who is working at the Fortescue household, winds up dead as well. Marple soon learns that plenty of people wanted Rex dead: His much younger wife, his son Percival, and his son Lance. And Rex's death is just the beginning, with the murders mimicking a nursery rhyme.

I notice on this board that there is a lot of discussion about the different Miss Marples. I've seen Margaret Rutherford, Angela Lansbury, Helen Hayes, Joan Hickson, Geraldine McEwan, and McKenzie. My favorite, of course, is Margaret Rutherford, who was hilarious but, like Peter Ustinov, she has nothing to do with the character created by Christie. However, both Ustinov and Rutherford's characterizations worked great in the movies.

Lansbury was delightful, but on the young side; McEwan, too knowing; Hickson, too dry with no warmth. For me, Helen Hayes and McKenzie are what I envisioned in the books. A sweet little old lady with a knowledge of people gleaned from living in the tiny village of St. Mary Mead.

And St. Mary Mead is one thing that's missing from all of these adaptations, at least the most recent ones. Someone commented that Miss Marple putting all these things together in a murder mystery is a bit of a stretch. But Miss Marple put everything together by remembering similar behavior in her village. It gave her keen insight into human nature. That thought process is never covered in these scripts. She just comes up with an answer with no explanation of how.

It was great to see Matthew MacFadyen of "MI-5" as the patient detective, very underplayed and just right. Rupert Graves was wonderful as Lance, charming and relaxed. Ben Miles was appropriately businesslike and uptight as Percival.

All in all, lovely scenery, good story, good performances, good direction.

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