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The Cornish Mystery is the fourth episode of series 2 of the ITV British television drama series Agatha Christie's Poirot featuring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, first broadcast on 28 January 1990 in the UK. The episode is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie short story of the same name and was directed by Edward Bennett with dramatisation by Clive Exton.


An ordinary middle-aged woman, Mrs Pengelley, visits Poirot and tells him of her horrid suspicion: her husband is trying to poison her. Poirot believes her and travels with Hastings to her Cornish hometown – but they arrive only hours after her sudden death.

The TV adaptation is very faithful to the original story but with the addition of Miss Lemon and Chief Inspector Japp as characters.

Comparison with Original Story[]

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

The film adaptation is very faithful to the original story, right down to the sequence of events, given in chronological order, and the actual lines of dialogue. Miss Lemon has a minor role in ushering Mrs Pengelley into Poirot's office. Japp also has a minor role. He supervises the exhumation of Mrs Pengelley and is present at the trial of Edward Pengelley.

There is one additional scene where Poirot and Hastings watch Mrs Pengelley's funeral from a distance and then the gathering at Edward Pengelley's house and the reading of the will. The will as read by the solicitor leaves a small trust for Freda Stanton with the residue going to Edward. These details are not found in the original story. In the original, Mrs Pengelley had no money of her own--it all belonged to her husband. The strategy for getting the money from the Pengelleys (and the motive for killing her) is therefore more roundabout--kill her and then have her husband tried and executed for murder. The money would then go the Freda Stanton, his niece.

In the original, Poirot instructs Hastings to lift the blind halfway to signal the men below to let Jacob Radnor pass. In the adaptation, this is a spontaneous idea of Hastings. He adds this at the right moment, to add to the psychological pressure on Jacob Radnor to sign the confession.

There are a few touches of humour not present in the original text:

  • When Poirot asks what a "hussy" is, Hastings defines it as a woman "who is no better than she ought to be".
  • Hastings calls at the dental clinic to speak to Edwina Marks but is so tongue tied that he forgets what he is supposed to say and he fakes a toothache.


Filming Locations[]

  • Dunster, a village in West Somerset - various locations and buildings[1]
    • Priory Gate House, The Ball - Pengelly's house.
    • High House, 1 Castle Hil - Freda Stantion rented a room here. Today a holiday cottage.
    • Surprises Shop - next to High House. Dressed as a hardware store. Poirot encounters Jacod Radnor here.
    • 29 High Street - Jacod Radnor's shop. Today, a boutique "Number 29".
    • The Chapel House, 2 West Street - externals of county court. Today a tea shop.
    • The Luttrell Arms Hotel - Poirot's hotel
    • The Yarn Market - "those two men have orders not to lose sight of you".
  • Blue Anchor Railway Station - Polgarwith Station
  • Chiswick Town Hall, council chamber - as the interior of the county court house

Vehicles and other props[]

  • Great Western 0-6-0 Pannier tank locomotive 6412, now with the South Devon Railway


Promotional Videos[]

See Also[]