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Hickory Dickory Dock is the second episode of series six of Agatha Christie's Poirot. It was broadcast on 12 February 1995. The feature-length episode was directed by Andrew Grieve and the screenplay was written by Anthony Horowitz. It is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name.

Synopsis

An outbreak of apparent kleptomania at a student hostel is not normally the sort of crime that arouses Hercule Poirot's interest. However, Miss Lemon persuades him to investigate, as the hostel is run by her sister – and the Detective soon finds it to be a 'unique and beautiful' problem.

Comparison with Original Novel

Spoiler warning: A spoiler is announced! The following section contains details about the plot of Hickory Dickory Dock and its adaptation.

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

In common with the rest of the series, the setting is moved back in time from the post-World War II period of Christie's original novel to the 1920s and 1930s.

This adaptation also differed from Christie's original in that Sharpe is replaced with the recurring character of Inspector Japp. The number of residents at the hostel have also been significantly reduced to simplify the ploy. Hence Elizabeth Johnston, Akimbombo and Chandra Lal among others have been removed.

A considerable effort has also been made to inject suspense and period authenticity/interest into the story been means of some side plots:

  • There is an entire sideplot involving a sinister-looking man who maintains surveillance on Hickory Road and who works at the rucksack shop at Hickory Road. Sally Finch is seen sneaking suspiciously out of the hostel by the fire escape. Later she has a secret meeting with this man. Sally tells him she is getting frightened and he promises he will "deal with" Poirot. All this is intended to throw a lot of suspicion on Sally. Only much later do the viewers learn that he is in fact a senior officer in HM Customs and Excise invesitgating a smuggling racket and Sally Finch is actually one of his secret agents.
  • This adaptation can cause a number of inaccuracies - in the case of Hickory Dickory Dock, the most significant of these concerns a subplot featuring the Jarrow March and MP Sir Arthur Stanley, who is seen to be dying in hospital as the march reaches London. In real life, the Jarrow March took place in 1936 but Stanley did not die until 1947. In the book, "Sir Arthur Stanley" is described as a biochemist, and his death clearly takes place in the 1950s - obviously a completely fictional character. 

Specific plot variations:

  • The bet about being able to get hold of poison and the subsequent theft of the morphine is done by Colin McNabb and not by Nigel Chapman. So it was Colin who stole the stethoscope. A bottle of morphine is found in Colin's room by Japp and Colin is arrested.
  • The splattering of the green ink, intended to serve as misdirection, has been omitted.
  • Mrs Nicoletis is the mastermind behind the smuggling ring which in this case involves only diamonds, not drugs as well. In the original Poirot believe she was only the visible front. She also owned the rucksack shop at Hickory Road. She is killed by stabbing and not by poisoning.
  • Sabrina Fair is not used as a base for the smuggling racket in this adaptation. Mrs Nicoletis has a cousin Giorgios who buys the smuggled diamonds. Unique to this adaptation, Valerie gave herself away because of her unique style of stitchwork used on the rucksacks.
  • The entire plot element of the smugglers having forged passports is not mentioned at all. Patricia Lane is killed not because she knew about Nigel Chapman's two passports but because she had seen an old family photo which revealed the secret of Nigel Chapman's past.
  • Celia Austin was not killed because she knew about forged passports, or even because she might know about Nigel's secret past. Here it is simply because she had seen who had cut up the rucksack.
  • There is no mention of the relationship between Valerie and Mrs Nicholetis.
Spoilers end here.

Cast

Tropes and themes

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