Alleyn Mysteries (1990–1994)
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Final Curtain 

An egotistical Shakespearean ham actor gathers his dysfunctional extended family in his mansion on his 75th birthday for the reading of his will.


Martyn Friend


Hugh Leonard (screenplay), Ngaio Marsh (novel) | 1 more credit »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Patrick Malahide ... Chief Inspector Alleyn
Michael Elwyn ... Trumper
David Cary David Cary ... Ship's Officer
Belinda Lang Belinda Lang ... Agatha Troy
Jonathan Cullen Jonathan Cullen ... Cedric Ancred
Peter Blythe ... Thomas Ancred
Sarah Winman Sarah Winman ... Fenella Cairnes
Edward Atterton ... Paul Kentish
Samantha Glenn ... Panty Kentish
Susan Fleetwood ... Pauline Kentish
Eleanor Bron ... Millamant Ancred
Michael Bilton Michael Bilton ... Barker
Emma Amos ... Sonia Orrincourt
Graham Crowden ... Sir Henry Ancred
Patricia Garwood ... Jenetta Cairnes


Agatha Troy is enlisted by Thomas Ancred to paint a portrait of his father, an egotistical, ham of a Shakespearean actor in time for the old man's seventy-fifth birthday. The noted thespian lives in a lavish, gothic-style mansion and takes great delight in disobeying his doctor's orders by indulging in rich food and alcohol and offending his grown children by taking on a seemingly not-very-bright peroxide blonde of an actress fifty years his junior as his mistress. Besides Thomas' wife Milamant, who acts as his caregiver, Sir Henry has four middle-aged daughters and numerous grandchildren, all of whom form a most dysfunctional family, always bickering and jockeying for position in the old man's will, which he regularly rewrites depending on his latest whim. He becomes furious when Agatha's portrait of him as Macbeth, his most celebrated role, is vandalized, and he spitefully rewrites his will for what will be one last time. Written by

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Crime | Drama | Mystery




Release Date:

2 May 1993 (UK) See more »

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Did You Know?


The final TV role of Michael Bilton who passed away later the same year. He was well known on British TV for 'To the Manor Born' and 'Waiting for God'. See more »


Fenella Cairnes: [Dramatically] I'll say no more, but there's badness in this house.
[as she goes out the door]
Fenella Cairnes: You'll see.
Agatha Troy: [Unimpressed by the dramatics] Fenella, you did that very well.
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User Reviews

Macbeth Paints
20 October 2006 | by tedgSee all my reviews

I haven't seen all of these productions. Usually I go through the whole series, and I may eventually come back to this.

I watched this because I saw "Death at the Bar," which was truly superb. It was because they built it around director Winterbottom's special skills, the writer working to them and not encumbered by adapting a Marsh story. This was chosen because though produced by the same enlightened folks, it has an ordinary filmmaker at the helm and it uses a Marsh story, one I have read.

The story is rather typical of the genre, one which wants overly dramatic characters so they are made people of the theater. In this case, we have a triple fold: the key character is a famous actor at the end of his life. He is having a painting made of himself in a Shakespearean role. (These mystery writers don't differentiate among these roles, instead clump them together and equate them all with some unspecified depth.) And the final fold is that he arranges a dinner "performance" of the reading of his will, which of course everyone hangs on.

Then there is a scene right afterward in which all these are at their most active.

It makes for a good read, and it has some Christie-influenced machinery behind it. But this specific trick is not well captured cinematically here. So the whole project sort of plods along.

A shame. Yes, That "Death at the Bar" was a fluke.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.

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