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Ordeal by Innocence is the second episode of the third series of Agatha Christie's Marple. It was broadcast on ITV by Granada Television on 30 September 2007. The screenplay was written by Stewart Harcourt and the episode was directed by Moira Armstrong. It was an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name although originally Miss Marple was not involved.


Miss Marple is invited to the wedding of a friend, but the gaieties are interrupted when a stranger arrives; he provides the missing evidence which proves that the black sheep of the family, Jacko, was wrongfully hanged for murder. This raises the question of who in the household did kill the cold-hearted mistress of the house two years previously. As usual, Miss Marple is needed to uncover the hatred, jealousy, lust etc. behind the family's facade and sort out the threads of the mystery.

Plot summary/Comparison with the original novel[]

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

  • This adaptation deviates from the novel most notably with the insertion of Miss Marple who was not in the original. This is achieved by having Gwenda Vaughn as a protege which Miss Marple had taken from an orphanage and trained up. At the beginning of the episode, Gwenda is about to marry Leo Argyle and she invites Miss Marple for the wedding. Hence Miss Marple is present when Arthur Calgary turns up.
  • The character Bobby Argyle was created for the adaptation as the twin brother of Jacko Argyle.
  • Many of the plot elements after Arthur Calgary's arrival follows the original novel fairly closely--Calgary was near Sunny Point visiting an old nanny, he picked up Jacko, they talk about eels. He left on the Hays Bentley expedition. There is no episode of concussion or loss of memory.
  • The family call Inspector Huish immediately--characters like Andrew Marshall and Dr MacMaster are not featured. Miss Marple starts investigating by talking to people at the house. She also sends Gwenda and Calgary to talk to people in the town.
  • Before dying, Jacko had told Bobby that perhaps being executed is the best thing he will ever do. This suggests to Miss Marple that Jacko was covering up for the true murderer.
  • The relations between the family members are more fractured than in the original and as the episode progresses, start accusing and suspecting one another. Philip Durrant is having an affair with Hester. Here he is a philanderer and Rachel had a dossier on his misdeeds. He was also not yet paralysed during the time of Rachel's murder. This makes him a plausible suspect. The affair with Hester also causes Mary to finger Hester as suspect. Others, especilly Kirsten finger Gwenda from the start, because she stands to gain the most. Towards the end Leo breaks off the engagement. In response to the accusations of the family members, Gwenda threatens that she knows many secrets about them. She is later murdered. Leo is also framed and briefly arrested by the police. Unlike the original, Tina is not attacked and Philip is not killed--he is not a threat to the killer like in the original.
  • Bobby, the more reliable of the children is later found to be a financial scammer on a much larger scale than Jacko but he dies, either by accident or suicide while trying to cross the river in an attempt to run away from the house.
  • Bobby's death seems to settle it, but not for Miss Marple, who gathers the family for the denouement. She runs through the motives that each one had for killing Rachel but in the end surmises that Kirsten has done it, and like in the original, this was because Jacko had charmed her and professed love for her. However she then allowed Jacko to die after being arrested because of the shock of discovering that Jacko was already married to Maureen. Kirsten retorts that Miss Marple has no proof. Unlike the original where Kirsten walks out of the house, here Miss Marple convinces her to confess, because she genuinely loved the children in the house and her confession is the only way she can set them free from their "ordeal by innocence". She agrees and confesses and is taken away by Inspector Huish.
  • Unlike the original, Calgary does not end up with Hester. At the end of the episode he departs for London and is more excited about his next expedition to the Galapagos than about any possible relationship with Hester.


Tropes and Themes[]

Filming Locations[]

  • Nether Winchendon House, Buckinghamshire - Sunnypoint
  • Church Cottage, Turville, Buckinghamshire - Miss Marple's cottage
  • Market Walk Amersham, coordinates 51.6665460, -0.6166402 - Gwenda and Calgary walk this way after meeting with Croker

Research notes[]

Miss Marple[]

Miss Marple shows that she is adapt at picking locks with a hairpin. She explains that that is because her nephew Raymond is always losing his keys.

Opening Music[]

"I'll never fall in love again" by Paul Lenart and Billy Novick

Charles Bravo case[]

  • Miss Marple mentions the Charles Bravo case which Dr MacMaster also mentions in the original novel.


Promotional Videos[]

See Also[]