I half expected "Agatha Christie's Marple" to be a little on the stodgy side but "The Moving Finger" turned out to be great fun. This was partly due to the all-star cast but also the knowing screenplay by Kevin Elyot which contained many laugh-out-loud moments at the numerous in-jokes. Best of these sprung from Ken Russell's character, the Reverend Caleb Dane Calthrop, speaking out against fornication, in the knowledge that the director-turned-actor himself has built a career making movies on that selfsame subject, from "Women in Love" to "Mahler", "Lisztomania" to "Tommy"!
The preview I read called the casting of Ken, together with comedian Harry Enfield as the dastardly uptight solicitor Richard Symmington, dodgy thus missing the point that this production intended itself as self-mocking. From the opening shots of playboy and World War II veteran Jerry Burton, played by James D'Arcy, first on his motorcycle and then in a red sports car with sister Joanna, a red-headed Emilia Fox, so blatantly filmed as period parody in the style of the time against a back projection, the story always managed to entertain.
I missed Paul McGann in last week's opening episode but "Doctor Who" Jon Pertwee's son Sean was on hand this week as the rather nervous Dr. Owen Griffith and I believe "Doctor Who" companion Bonnie Langford appears in the next yarn as a pushy mother! The poison-pen letters in "The Moving Finger" turn out to be one enormous red herring which distract Inspector Graves, a superb turn from Keith Allen, into hilariously staking out the women's institute's typewriter! Credit must also be given to John Session's Cardew Pye, as gay as the name sounds, reminding me of Nickolas Grace's performance as stuttering Anthony Blanche in "Brideshead Revisited"!
Another interesting piece of casting was that of ex-"Big Breakfast" presenter Kelly Brook as governess Elsie Holland who gains a place in the affections of our hero Jerry before he realises he is in love with Megan Hunter, played to perfection by Talulah Riley (pictured) fresh from her success as Mary Bennet in the recent movie version of "Pride and Prejudice". The ye-olde-worlde scenes of Lymstock, a typically idyllic-seeming English country village, were picture-postcard perfect and made me think I was still watching "The Avengers"!!! Highly recommended.