A Pocket Full of Rye is the first episode of the fourth series of Agatha Christie's Marple and the first episode featuring Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple. It was broadcast on ITV by Granada Television on 10 June 2009. The screenplay was written by Kevin Elyot and the episode was directed by Charles Palmer. It was an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name.
When Rex Fortescue dies while sitting at his desk in the City, it's determined that he was in fact poisoned. He was married to a much younger wife, who now stands to inherit. His son Percival, a partner in the family firm, was a disappointment to him and a daughter, Elaine, hasn't amounted to much. Another son, Lance, had a falling out with his father many years before and relocated to East Africa. He suddenly appears soon after his father's death claiming that they had reconciled and been invited by him to return to England with an offer to rejoin the firm. Miss Marple takes a particular interest in the case when her former maid Gladys, now working in the Fortescue household, is also murdered. She soon learns that the elder Fortescue had received veiled threats for some time and that they might have something to do with a long ago business deal that made his initial fortune.
Comparison with original story
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
The episode is highly faithful to the plot of the original with only a few minor changes.
- The character of Miss Ramsbottom is deleted. The revelations by Miss Ramsbottom about the Blackbird Mine now come from Crump while drunk and also from Lance.
- The character of the housemaid Ellen Curtis is also deleted. The discovery of the body of Gladys is now made by Mrs Crump instead of Ellen.
- Miss Marple plays a larger role in the episode than in the book. She visits Mrs Mackenzie to learn about the history between her late husband and Rex Fortesque. Miss Marple also talks to Gerald Wright. In the book these interviews were done by Inspector Neele.
The episode ends the same way as the original novel. Miss Marple goes back to St Mary Mead and there finds a letter from Gladys which contains the damning evidence which Inspector Neele needs to bring the killer to justice. In the letter Gladys describes what has happened and includes a photograph of her with Albert Evans.
- Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple
- Rose Heiney as Gladys
- Laura Haddock as Miss Grosvenor
- Kenneth Cranham as Rex Fortescue
- Thea Collings as Tilly
- Lucy Cohu as Pat Fortescue
- Rupert Graves as Lance Fortescue
- Matthew Macfadyen as Inspector Neele
- Edward Tudor-Pole as Professor Bernsdorrf
- Ralf Little as Sergeant Pickford
- Helen Baxendale as Mary Dove
- Ken Campbell as Crump
- Anna Madeley as Adele Fortescue
- Joseph Beattie as Vivian Dubois
- Wendy Richard as Mrs Crump
- Ben Miles as Percival Fortescue
- Liz White as Jennifer Fortescue
- Hattie Morahan as Elaine Fortescue
- Paul Brooke as Billingsley
- Chris Larkin as Gerald Wright
- Prunella Scales as Mrs MacKenzie
- Rachel Atkins as Sanatorium Sister
- Greg Bennett as Police Constable (uncredited)
- Andrew Care as Doctor (uncredited)
Tropes and Themes
- Englefield House, Berkshire - Yew Tree Lodge