In the novel 4.50 from Paddington, Squadron Leader Bryan Eastley is the widower of Edie Eastley (neé Crackenthorpe), the youngest daughter of Luther Crackenthorpe. Bryan is the father of Alexander Eastley. He and his son often visit his father-in-law at Rutherford Hall.
Bryan was a fighter pilot during the war, and has a D.F.C. But he had difficulty settling down after the end of the conflict. He says that because of that, people try to make things easy for him, and offer him jobs. However, the available jobs are all administrative jobs, which he is not good at. He has business ideas of his own, but has had difficulty getting investors.
Bryan also has a backstory which intertwined with that of Edmund Crackenthorpe which only came to light late in the book. During the war Bryan had been shot down and had hidden in the family home of Martine Dubois in France who was then in the French resistance. Martine Dubois also met Edmund who had wanted to marry her but was killed before that could happen. Martine subsequently married Sir Robert Stoddart West.
Lucy Eyelesbarrow did not initially consider Bryan a suspect for the murder on the train because Elspeth McGillicuddy had said that the murderer was a tall dark man. Bryan, on the other hand is fair with medium brown hair. Lady Stoddart-West saw him from a distance on the terrace and referred to him as a "tall dark man". Lucy realises from this that at certain angles and light conditions, even a man with light hair can look dark because he keeps it plastered down. Bryan thus becomes a plausible suspect. Miss Marple, on the other hand, never ruled him out because she had considered that possibility.
Besides his brown hair Bryan is described as an "amiable-looking young man ... rather plaintive blue eyes and an enormous fair moustache". Lucy Eyelesbarrow says that he is rather sweet, and that he is "like a dog that wants to be taken for a walk". He is always full of schemes but Lucy says that Bryan's schemes all sound rather wonderful, but they are not practical. She thinks that he never considers the actual working difficulties. She also says that all his schemes are air schemes.
Bryan likes Lucy, and is frequently in the kitchen with her. On one occasion, he is "watching her with a kind of dog-like attention". He also occasionally helps her with the cooking.
Among the Crackenthorpes, Bryan is one of the few or perhaps the only one who likes Rutherford Hall. It reminds him of the big rambling Victorian house he lived in when he was a boy. He says that one could land a plane quite easily in the park. He feels that he and Alexander could be very happy living there, and that it seems like a waste for Cedric to inherit the house, as he will just sell it.
BBC's Miss Marple
In BBC's 1987 adaptation of 4.50 from Paddington, the part of Bryan Eastley is played by David Beames. In the adaptation, according to his son Alexander, Bryan was a highly successful fighter pilot during the Second World War. He had 24 combat victories and was awarded the D.S.O with bar and the D.F.C. with bar. Eastley became an insurance agent after the war, but not a successful one. One of the running gags in the show is him always somehow ending up doing whatever Lucy Eyelesbarrow says. So when Lucy says he should not sell products he doesn't believe in, he quits his job. Later, in a fit of annoyance, she tells him to do anything, sell you house, buy a plane.... Eastley really mortgages his house and buys a small plane. Eastley dislikes Cedric Crackenthorpe because he is a rival for the affection of Lucy. He tells the police that he saw Cedric at Northolt Airport on the day Anna Stravinska was murdered, thus destroying his alibi that he was in Ibiza. At the end of the show Eastley pairs off with Lucy Eyelesbarrow, just as is strongly suggested in the book.
ITV's Agatha Christie's Marple
In ITV's 2004 adaptation of 4.50 from Paddington, the part of Bryan is played by Michael Landes. Unlike the book and other adaptations, Bryan here is an American. He was also once a fighter pilot but at the time of the events in the episode he had taken on a job in insurance. He lied about his whereabouts on the day of the murder and was also appeared suspicious in that he was also adament he couldn't have "killed Martine" but said that to explain why would betray a confidence. His suspicious behaviour is only explained at the end. On the day of the murder he had been to London to see the bank manager about his financial problems. On the way back he had crashed his car but he did not want his son to know about it. As for Martine, he knew she was alive and well because he had kept in touch with her all along since her husband Edmund died but he had promised her not to reveal it to the rest of the family. The body found at Rutherford Hall could not be Martine. Like in the book. Bryan is portrayed sympathetically as a widowed loving father who tries his best to bring up his son. He does declare his love of Lucy Eyesbarrow and his son Alexander tries to encourage it by telling her his father needs "a proper home life. He needs looking after". However at the end of the episode, Lucy chooses Inspector Tom Campbell instead of him.