Nemesis is a 100-minute television film adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel produced by the BBC as the eighth episode (of twelve) in their series "Miss Marple series" all of which starred Joan Hickson as in the lead role as Miss Jane Marple. It was transmitted in two 50-minute parts on Sunday, February 8 and Sunday, February 15, 1987. The adaptation was directed by David Tucker with screenplay by script by T.R. Bowen. It was an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name.
In the original novel the events take place place after those in another novel A Caribbean Mystery, but this episode was broadcast before the the adaptation of the earlier novel which was episode 10. This was a source of confusion to some viewers.
Miss Marple receives a cryptic letter requesting her to right an unknown injustice, but receives no hint other than a ticket for a guided tour of historic homes.
Comparison with original novel
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Changes to characters
- The character Lionel Peel, a nephew of Jane Marple, was created for the adaptation. He accompanies Miss Marple on the bus tour.
- The characters Esther Walters, Joanna Crawford and Emlyn Price (among others) are omitted.
- The character Nora Broad is renamed Norah Brent.
- A few minor characters are added, supporting the sideplot of Michael Rafiel.
- Jason Rafiel actually appears at the beginning to plan his posthumous scheme. In the novel he was already dead. He has a secretary named Miss Kurnowitz.
- The name of the tour guide is changed.
- Michael Rafiel has a different backstory.
Plot elements and themes
- The adaptation is fairly close to the original novel:
- Miss Marple does not look up Esther Walters for background information. Indeed, the entire Caribbean backstory is not mentioned at all. This is understandable as this adaptation was broadcast before that of A Caribbean Mystery. To mention the Caribbean events as preamble would have confused viewers.
- Some effort is made to build up Cook and Barrow as sinister figures (but in a different way than in the book). Cook conducts surveillance on Miss Marple at St. Mary Mead. On the tour, they are often seen following her or discussing her. Like in the book, Miss Marple notices this and wonders whether she has enemies or friends.
- The itinerary of the bus tour is slightly changed. Blenheim is the same. The bus didn't go to Stourhead in the book. The main action takes place in Abbey Ducis and Kingminster whereas in the book it is in Jocelyn St Mary.
- Miss Temple is killed by a marble bust being pushed off a balcony while she tours Kingminster rather by a falling boulder during a hike.
- The witness who notices the bright pullover is Professor Wanstead instead of Joanna Crawford and Emlyn Price.
- In this adaptation, Miss Temple wrote a letter to Clotilde just before she is killed. This is later discovered to be a letter where she "accuses" Clotilde of Verity Hunt's death and offering to help her confess. This is suggested as the proximal cause of Miss Temple 's murder. In the novel, Miss Temple was on her way to see Archdeacon Brabazon (the next stop on the bus tour). Clothilde probably feared that the two confering together might discover the truth and so needed to kill Miss Temple before the meeting.
- There is a "Rafiel House" near Abbey Ducis. This was where Mr Rafiel and Michael Rafiel used to stay. There is an added plot element in that in Rafiel's will is offered two million pounds if he maintains Rafiel House and lives there. In the original, the details of the will are not given.
- The is an entire sideplot based on Michael Rafiel's backstory. Here he is not in prison but a homeless person on the streets of London.
- Like in the novel, Miss Marple confronts Clothilde at the end and reveals the what she has found. Clothilde tries to attack Miss Marple just like in the novel and Cook and Barrow show up to protect her. In the adaptation Miss Marple, Cook and Barrow planned the night's operation over dinner. In the novel, there wasn't a possibility of preplanning. However Cook and Barrow came to the Manor House for coffee. At the table, they hinted to Miss Marple not to drink the coffee. On parting one of them stealthily passed a whistle to Miss Marple to summon them. Miss Marple did not use a whistle in the adaptation.
- In this adaptation there is no meeting at the Home Office where Miss Marple sums up her findings nor does she show at at Broadribb and Shuster to claim her reward. Here she is taken by Professor Wanstead to Rafiel House at the end. Michael Rafiel has been found by Lionel on the streets of London and Peel told him that the truth about Verity Hunt has been discovered. Michael Rafiel moves back into Rafiel House and welcomes Miss Marple into the house.
- In this adaptation, Mr Rafiel had a final note for Miss Marple praising her for what she had done. This note was given to Michael Rafiel to pass to Miss Marple at the end.
- There is a slightly different motivation on the part of Mr Rafiel between the novel and the adaptation. In the novel, he agreed with Wanstead that Michael was not the type to kill and so wanted him vindicated and set free. In the adaptation, Miss Marple believed that Mr Rafiel wanted justice for Verity Hunt even if that might cost him his son, should Miss Marple conclude that he had really been the killer.
- Joan Hickson as Miss Jane Marple
- Peter Tilbury as Lionel Peel
- Frank Gatliff as Jason Rafiel
- Barbara Franceschi as Miss Kurnowitz
- Bruce Payne as Michael Rafiel
- Roger Hammond as Mr Broadribb
- Patrick Godfrey as Mr Schuster
- Ann Queensberry as Miss Wimpole
- Joanna Hole as Madge
- Helen Cherry as Miss Elizabeth Temple
- John Horsley as Professor Wanstead
- Jane Booker as Miss Cooke
- Alison Skilbeck as Miss Barrow
- Valerie Lush as Lavinia Glynne
- Margaret Tyzack as Clothilde Bradbury-Scott
- Anna Cropper as Anthea Bradbury-Scott
- Liz Fraser as Mrs Brent
- Peter Copley as Archdeacon Brabazon
- Roger Booth as Mr Pelham
- Reginald Stewart as Mr Hallowes
- Jackie Downey as Florence
- Jonathan Adams as Carter
- Diane Agnew as Receptionist
- Marlene Sidaway as Mrs Trollope
- Jonathan Stephens as Policeman
- Oliver Parker as London Policeman
- David Blake Kelly as Tramp
- Liz Adams as Coach Passenger
- Mara Purcell (credited as Maraquita Annis) as Coach Passenger
- Lesley Burt as Coach Passenger
- Jack Crosbie as Coach Passenger
- Jeremy Davies as Coach Passenger
- Jack Frost as Coach Passenger
- Eileen Matthews as Coach Passenger
- Mary Maxfield as Coach Passenger
- Betty Shawe as Coach Passenger
- Cy Town as Coach Passenger
- Uncredited actress as Mrs Adams
- Nora Brent
- Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England - church, tea room, graveyard, market and street scenes for Abbey Ducis
- Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England - The town of Kingminster
- Burgh Island, Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon, England - La Rocheverte
- Budleigh Salterton, Devon, England
- Hidcote Manor, Hidcote Bartrim, Gloucestershire, England - some garden scenes
- Paignton, Devon, England
- Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England
- Bear Hotel, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England - Golden Boar
- Stourhead House and Garden, Wiltshire, England
- Northleach, Gloucestershire, England - Graveyard to west of Northleach parish church is used as the graveyard with headstone of Verity Hunt
- Northleach parish church, Gloucestershire, England - Characters leaving the funeral of Elizabeth Temple gather outside the Church. (The interior of Chipping Campden parish church is used for church interior scenes.)
- Berkeley Castle, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England -Used for exteriors and interiors of Kingminster Castle.