A Murder is Announced 1956 is a televised version of the novel of the same name. It was the first TV appearance of Miss Marple. It was produced by The Goodyear Playhouse.
This Teleplay was thought lost until 2015 when it was rediscovered.
Behind the Scenes
Television was a medium that Agatha Christie had began to hate, in 1938 she wrote a Script for a version of Warp's Nest for the BBC, then a couple of Broadcasts of stage able works adapted without Christie were screened and due to the lack of mass televisions and the lack of recording they have been forgotten.
After US TV did a Teleplay of Death on the Nile (based on the stage-play Murder on the Nile) and They Came to Baghdad, Goodyear Playhouse choose to look at the Miss Marple works.
It was decided that A Murder is Announced, due to it mainly being done indoors, the casting would be a mixture of British and American actors to try and give the production a feel of Christie's England.
To play Miss Marple the production cast Gracie Fields whose name was well known in the America Media, she starred in several Movies in the states and had began to do Television, however she made the odd choice to play the Jane Marple as Scottish which might of been due to the lack of description of Jane's voice might of been the reason.
- Josephine Brown – Miss Murgatroyd
- Gracie Fields – Miss Jane Marple
- Malcolm Keen – Inspector Craddock
- Roger Moore – Patrick Simmons
- Pat Nye – Miss Hinchcliffe
- Betty Sinclair – Dora Bunner
- Jessica Tandy – Leticia Blacklock
Due to the lack of an actor for Rudi Scherz, Mitzi, Julia Simmons, Phillipa Haymes, Julian and Diana Harmon and the other guests at the "murder" it could be suggested that this teleplay happened after the first murder and the guests are described but not heard. Due to the hour length these cuts characters and later intro could be the writer William Templeton tighten the piece to work with the limitations. However in Mark Aldridge's Book Agatha Christie on Screen he remarked on the fact Miss Hinchcliffe is murdered rather that Miss Murgatroyd.
After the Broadcast, there was talk of bringing Miss Marple to America and have her solve a special series of crimes that would of been written just for the TV Series but Agatha Christie was dead against it so it ended up scrapped. Miss Marple would take on Films with the Murder series.
Disappearance and Rediscovery
After the original screening there might of been a rerun in the week of Screening but after that it disappeared from the world and like many early Television shows it was believed that it had been Wiped or Junked.
The only known image of Fields as Marple was thought to be this picture on the right, this belief was placed in a book of Christie's Work on Stage and Screen, the photograph is often the first thing that comes up when people Search for Fields as Marple, but the picture is a production still from the movie Paris Underground, sometimes known as Madame Pimpernel, which was Fields' final motion picture. Because of the hat Fields is wearing looks like a typical Miss Marple hat but her make up especially the lips is of an Hollywood movie style.
The Official Gracie Fields, an Wordpress site contracted the owners of the Goodyear Playhouse Archive who verified that there was a master print still in existence, but that for a price they would release the print on DVD. This was impossible for the site to do but several Christie fans including one Biographer have bootleg copies. One was able to be watched by the team that own the site and they were able to reproduce Screenshots on their site.
- Gracie Fields using an Scottish accent wasn't uncommon for her but again the lack of description in the books of Marple's voice was maybe the reason Fields did this unusual addintion.
- When people were able to view it they revealed that the star of the show was Jessica Tandy and Gracie Fields was given the title of "And Starring", which is surprising as Fields was well known in American.
- Julia McKenzie is believed to have viewed the bootleg version of this teleplay so she could see a different incarceration of Marple.