As part of this site’s Agatha Christie birthday celebrations, I thought I’d have a crack at doing a bit of listy thing – the top 10 most-Agatha Christie-like series, past or present. Of course we could have an endless discussion on what makes a drama Agatha Christie-esque, but the quintessentials – quaint, rural settings, a classic whodunit, a one-location story, determined amateur sleuths (for Marple), and strong powers of deduction, a strong male lead and a detective whose eyes we see the case unfold through, and with an epicurean love of the classics (for Poirot) can all be used as criteria. As I’ve already explained, Christie’s legacy on television is huge, and this little list helps to prove it.
Murder, She Wrote
Easily the most Marple-esque of the modern crime dramas, Angela Lansbury starred as the busy-bodyish Jessica Fletcher – crime novelist and getter-into-trouble extraordinaire. He locale, Cabot Cove, was generally where she stumbled onto real-life misdemeanours, but this was widened out as the series went on. One thing was for sure – wherever the Marple-esque Fletcher went, there was trouble.
Rosemary And Thyme
For a short while, this was huge. Typical Sunday night fare, it featured two amateur detectives brought together by their love of gardening. Yes, gardening. Completely daft, but very watchable and perhaps one of the most Marple-esque series ever made.
based on the novels by the brilliant MC Beaton, it featured an exiled city woman moved to the country who, you guessed it, found herself embroiled in rural murder and mayhem. The fact that Raisin’s first name is Agatha is a big giveaway.
The beloved Morse was, basically, the English Poirot. His strong, slightly testy temperament saw him the man for the job and his powers of deduction, while not quite in the same league as the Belgian, were well honed. He also revelled in Oxford’s architectural heritage and the classical music of bygone eras.
Not that much like Christie, but what it did do was to house its crimes more or less in one location; mostly a quaint, rural English village. Classic Marple right there.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Marple would frown heartily at Phryne Fisher’s jazz and gin-loving heroine, but she would also see that this Edwardian private detective had plenty of the same kind of sass she possessed, albeit in a bit more of an ostentatious way.
This relatively new series, which debuted on UK TV last year, adapted James Runcie’s novels, which featured a young priest in a picture-perfect Cambridgeshire village during the 1950s. Already we have an amateur sleuth, a rural setting and a vintage era, which automatically qualifies it as Christie-esque. And Sidney Chambers like a sneaky pint and a listen to jazz music when he’s at home, too, as well asdisplaying a Marple-like drive and determination to get involved in cases.
Bear with on this one. I think there’s a touch of the Poirots about Lieutenant Columbo. There’s the immediately recognisable physical appearance (and accessory), the classic whodunit storylines and the subtle powers of deduction.
An amateur sleuth, and with a tempestuous male/female relationship, there’s more than a touch of Christie about this excellent crime drama.
For all our Agatha Christie news and reviews, go here