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Sleeping Murder is the first episode of the second series two of Agatha Christie's Marple. It was broadcast on ITV by Granada Television on 5 February 2006. The screenplay was written by Stewart Harcourt and the episode was directed by Edward Hall. It was an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name which was originally Miss Marple's last appearance.


Miss Jane Marple is asked to help Gwenda, a wealthy young woman who has bought a house on the English coast, only to experience disturbing visions. Thanks to Miss Marple's investigations, Gwenda discovers that, instead of spending all her life in India, she had lived in the house as a child. The visions are actually flashes of memory - and she realises she witnessed the murder of a beautiful woman named "Helen".

Comparison with the original story

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

  • The main premise of the original novel is retained but the backstories of most of the main characters have been changed as have the relationships between some of them.
  • Raymond and Joan West, the nephew of Miss Marple that invite Gwenda in London, are absent in the episode.
  • Here Gwenda is not yet married but engaged to Charles Vanstone (i.e. Giles Reed). She goes to Dillmouth to buy Hillside. She goes to watch The Duchess of Malfi at Dillmouth Theatre. At the scene where someone strangles the duchess she gets the flashback to someone strangling Helen at Hillside. However in this case, the line about "cover her face" is not heard in the play nor in her flashback, nor does the flashback involve someone with hands like monkey paws.
  • Gwenda's mother is Clare while in the novel it is Megan. Clare apparently died in a car accident in India.
  • Kennedy is the brother of Clare, while in the novel is the half-brother of Helen. He is not related to Helen who in this case is an entertainer with a company of of itinerant artistes "The Funny Bones" who do not exist in the novel.
  • Helen and Halliday were engaged to be married but she never turned up on the day of the wedding. Halliday apparently committed suicide and his body was found at the foot of a cliff.
  • There is an additional character Hugh Hornbeam who is assigned by Vanstone's company to welcome Gwenda and help her with her wedding preparations. When Gwenda wants to pursue the mystery of Helen, Hornbeam is the one who calls in Miss Marple. He also accompanies Gwenda to various interviews. Most of the suspects here are members of the Funnybones troupe.
  • The segment involving Lily Tutt (Lily Kimble is her maiden name here) is fairly similar. She reads an advertisement, writes to Dr Kennedy, they arranged to meet at Kennedy's house but is murdered along the way.
  • There is no climactic scene where Kennedy attempts to kill Gwenda. Here Miss Marple arranges a denouement with everyone and reveals the whole story. Before that, Miss Marple and Hornbeam make some calls to India for some background information.
  • In this adaptation it transpires that Clare Halliday and Helen Marsden were actually the same person. Clare was a jewel thief in India and staged her death in a fake car accident to evade the police. She then travelled to Dillmouth and jointed the Funnybones troupe as Helen Marsden.
  • Faced with these revelations, Kennedy simply confesses and is arrested.
  • The body of Helen/Clare was buried under a cliffside tree which Kennedy had earlier told Gwenda was his favourite place. The entire plotline about moving the terrace steps, burying the body under the new construction and being observed by Leonie is missing.
  • Here also Kennedy killed Halliday directly by throwing her off the cliff. In the novel Kelvin Halliday is consigned to a sanatorium and commits suicide.
  • Charles Vanstone, Gwenda's fiancée has a very small role here. He is hardly seen on screen and plays no role in the investigation. At the end of the episode, Hugh Hornbeam proposes to Gwenda at Miss Marple's enouragement.
  • There are several sideplots involving relationships between the main suspects who in this case are mostly members of the Funnybones troupe.



Tropes and Themes

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

  • It all began in India...

Filming Locations

  • Sidmouth, Devon - Dillmouth scenes especially the esplanade[1]
  • Hampton Court House - Afflick's house
  • Kit's Close, Fawley, Buckinghamshire - Dr Kennedy's house

Research notes


Promotional Videos

See Also