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A Pocketful of Rye is the third episode of the TV film series Miss Marple starring Joan Hickson. It was broadcast in three parts by the BBC on 7 & 8 March 1985. The screenplay was written by T.R. Bowen, and the episode was directed by Guy Slater. It is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel with a similar name (A Pocket Full of Rye).


When a handful of grain is found in the pocket of a murdered businessman, Miss Marple seeks a murderer with a penchant for nursery rhymes.

Comparison with original story[]

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

The episode is a faithful faithful adaptation of the original novel with a number of changes:

  • Miss Ramsbottom is renamed Miss Henderson but fulfils the same role.
  • The characters of Elaine Fortescue and Gerald Wright are deleted.
  • Jennifer Fortescue has a separate bequest of 40,000 pounds in Rex Fortesque's will in this adaptation, a fact which gives her much more of a motive and makes her a plausible suspect. In the novel, it was Elaine who received a bequest.
  • Miss Marple arrives early on scene than in the novel. Here she arrives just around time Adele and Gladys are killed. The police did not allow her into the grounds so she writes a note mentioning the nursery rhyme to Inspector Neele which he ignores and later regrets it. In the novel, Miss Marple reads about the deaths of Adele and Gladys. She is let in by the police who suppose she is an elderly relative of the family. She talks to Pat first who brings her to Inspector Neele. Miss Marple tells Neele about the rhyme in person.
  • In the episode there is a big argument between Percival and Jennifer which Adele speculates is because Jennifer now has her own money after Rex's death. At the end of the show Jennifer states that she would be leaving Percival.
  • Mrs Mackenzie is mentioned but does not appear in the adaptation. Miss Marple says that she visited her but that her mind was almost completely gone and there was nothing useful to be learned from her.
  • The ending in the adaptation differs significantly from the novel. Here Miss Marple sees Lance and Pat drive away after having obtained the deed to the Blackbird Mine. Miss Marple tells Inspector Neele to stop them and he chooses to trust her. When Lance sees a police car shadowing them, he knows the game is up and stops the car annd confesses his crimes to Pat. When Pat is upset, Lance tells her to get out of the car. Lance tries to reverse the car to get away but a lorry crashes into his car and kills him. In the original Miss Marple simple tells Neele her conclusions. Inspector Neele is left with the challenge of assembling the evidence against Lance. However on returning to St Mary Mead, Miss Marple finds a letter from Gladys with a photograph, thus giving the evidence that is needed.
  • There is a letter to Miss Marple in this adaptation. After the death of Rex Fortescue Gladys tried to call Miss Marple but she was not at home. She then wrote a letter but never got round to posting it before she got killed. Miss Marple in going through the things in Gladys' room did not find the letter. Perhaps it had been posted but the episode did not show her receiving it--from the plot point of view it was unnecessary because the murderer had already died in a traffic collision.


Tropes and Themes[]

Filming locations[]

  • Thelveton Hall, Norfolk - Yewtree Lodge
  • Nether Wallop - various St Mary Mead locations
    • The Old Chapel, High Street - St Mary Mead Infants School - Miss Marple pases by and hears schoolchildren singing Sing a Song of Sixpence
    • Dane Cottage - as Danemead, Miss Marple's Cottage
    • House next to Dane Cottage - as Mrs Brogan's village shop
    • "The Square" - with added rotunda. Village square where Mrs Brogan catches up with Miss Marple