Agatha Christie's Marple

Season 2 Episode 3

By the Pricking of My Thumbs

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Feb 19, 2006 on ITV
out of 10
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Episode Summary


When Tommy and Tuppence Beresford visit Tommy's elderly aunt at Sunny Ridge Nursing Home, Tuppence is told by another resident, Mrs. Lancaster, that the corpse of a child is hidden behind a fireplace. Tuppence realises there could be more to the old lady's words than she originally thought, especially when Tommy's aunt dies weeks later, and Mrs. Lancaster mysteriously disappears. With Tommy away on business, who better to help her than Miss Marple, who is visiting an old friend at the nursing home. With a cryptic painting on their hands, the two end up in the Norfolk village of Farrell St. Edmund to find the subject of their painting, a lone cottage in a wooded forest, while also trying to learn the closely-guarded secrets of the residents.


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  • Something wicked this way comes

    Wickedly awful. Reasonable performances and an interesting plot which everyone definitely lost along the way (including the scriptwriter and the costume designer - or had Ms Scaachi upset her or him?). The real murder was attributing this to Dame Agatha who would, had she been alive to see it (heaven have thought "This reminds me vaguely of
  • Oh dear!

    Prettily shot, some nice period detail, stylish... but not Christie.

    Tommy was a little dry for Tommy, but otherwise inoffensive.

    Tuppence -- completely out of character. Not that it was a bad performance by Ms Scacchi, obviously within what was in the script for her character; but just not Tuppence.

    I could see why it was written that way, they needed a contrast between Geraldine McEwan's Miss Marple and Tuppence. But it was all wrong.

    So beginning with some jarringly bad misconceptions about a character was not a good starting place.

    I know they have only a certain number of Marple books to play with, and they want to keep the series going, but taking the character and inserting her into Christie's other stories (Towards Zero gets the same treatment) is to the detriment of both the character and the stories they are re-writing.

    This one particularly suffers from an imbalance, the story has shifted off centre, away from the actual central character and split between two characters. It's a shame.moreless
  • Miss Marple teams up with Tuppence to solve a mystery.

    Firstly, inserting Miss Marple into a Tommy & Tuppence novel is a terrible idea to begin with. You don't see Ellery Queen and Sherlock Holmes, nor Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey in one novel.

    Secondly, the way Tuppence is written in this movie is a disgrace to the original character. The Tuppence from the novels was a self-assured woman, quite capable of handling herself. The Tuppence in this movie is a drunk, full of doubt and regret, not worth standing in the shadow of the original character.

    As with all of these Marple movies, the script has been altered in such a way that deduction is thrown out of the window, Miss Marple draws conclusions out of a hat it seems.

    The 5.5 is because the acting is quite good and the period setting is lovely. Too bad it's ruined by the script and shame on the Christie estate that allows this type of travesty to be made!moreless
Anthony Andrews

Anthony Andrews

Tommy Beresford

Guest Star

Greta Scacchi

Greta Scacchi

Tuppence Beresford

Guest Star

Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan

Rose Waters

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Goof - Anachronsim: Marple: (To the taxi driver) The train station, not the police station, please.
      There's no way Miss Marple would have used this expression in the late 1940s or 50s; the expression has only been in common use for the last three or four years. The term is "railway station".

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Miss Marple: Old men can sometimes become too sentimental around children.
      Dr. Waters: Really? I find myself becoming less tolerant.

    • Tuppence:(Referring to Ada Beresford) She made the Philistines look like the Chelsea Arts Club.

    • Miss Marple: (After Tuppence has stalled the car twice) Kangaroo petrol?

    • Tuppence: Mrs Lancaster said that there was a child buried behind the fireplace in the sun lounge.
      Miss Packard: My sun lounge?

    • Mrs Lancaster: Excuse me, it wasn't your poor child?
      Tuppence: No I don't think so.
      Mrs Lancaster: I thought you'd come for a reason. Someone will come sometime. That's where the poor child was you know. The poor child behind the fireplace.

    • Ada Beresford: The United Nations building in New York. What's it like?
      Tommy: I haven't been.
      Ada Beresford: You haven't been?!

    • Tommy Beresford: [Tuppence asks Tommy to drive so she can continue reading her copy of Macbeth. Tommy chuckles in response] I was in Macbeth at my prep school. "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day."
      Tuppence Beresford: I heard you were marvelous.
      Tommy Beresford: Who from?
      Tuppence Beresford: You.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Murders

      Lily Waters - Poisoned

      Aunt Ada - Poisoned

      Nellie Bligh - Poisoned

    • Miss Marple did not appear in the original novel on which this adaptation is based. To make this story part of the Marple series, it is set in the post-war period, meaning Tommy would still be needed in military intelligence.

    • By The Pricking Of My Thumbs was split into two parts in the US and aired on June 18th and 25th.

    • This episode is based on a Tommy and Tuppence novel by the same name, also by Agatha Christie, published in 1968.


    • Title: By The Pricking Of My Thumbs
      This is a quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth. It is said by the second witch in Act 1 Scene 4:
      By the pricking of my thumbs,
      Something wicked this way comes.

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