Towards Zero is the third episode of the third series of Agatha Christie's Marple. It was broadcast on ITV by Granada Television on 3 August 2008. The screenplay was written by Kevin Elyot and the episode was directed by David Grindley and Nicolas Winding Refn. It was an adaptation of the Christie's novel of the same name although the original did not feature Miss Marple.
Miss Marple is visiting an old school friend, Lady Camilla Tressilian, along with an eclectic group: Neville Strange and his wife Kay, his former wife Audrey and her childhood friend and cousin Thomas Royde, Ted Latimer (who is something of a gigolo and very attracted to Kay Strange) and finally Freddie Treves, a retired solicitor. When Treves is found dead the day after a dinner party at Lady Tressilian's home and Lady Tressilian herself is found bludgeoned to death a short time later, Miss Marple must sort through the complex set of relationships among all the players, and determine what role the tale of a child's crime may have had to play in the deaths.
Comparison with the original story
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
- The novel, which the episode is adapted from, does not feature Miss Marple.
- Superintendent Battle, a character in the novel, is replaced by Superintendent Mallard, but many of the clues spotted by Battle, such as the fender knobHsTh* and the window pole and the bell rope are given to Miss Marple.
- Angus MacWhirter is not featured. Again, much of his role is given to Miss Marple.
- Otherwise the adaptation is very faithful to the original. Many relatively minor scenes in the book such as Nevile handing the magazine to Audrey instead of Kay, are faithfully dramatised.
- It is Thomas Royde who stops Audrey from jumping off the cliff, since Angus is not featured. She does not immediately accept his offer of affection.
- Diana Brinton and her dog befriends Miss Marple and not Angus. The smell of dead fish clue is developed differently since Miss Marple obviously had no suit to send to the laundry. Here, Diana simply tells Miss Marple that she had detected the same dead fish smell in the billiard room and Ted Latimer and Nevile Strange were playing billiards at that time.
- It's Miss Marple who finds the wet rope in the box room. She does this while snooping and without the help of Mary Aldin.
- The final denouement takes place on a boat just like in the original. It's Miss Marple and not the Superintendent who pushes Ted Latimer into the water and he is rescued by Sergeant Jones.
- There's some development of a relationship between Mary Aldin and Thomas Royde just like in the book. Here, Thomas is not as taciturn as in the book as in the original. However, since Angus is not featured, Thomas pairs off with Audrey in the end.
- Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple
- Julian Sands as Thomas Royde
- Zoë Tapper as Kay Strange
- Paul Nicholls as Ted Latimer
- Greg Wise as Nevile Strange
- Saffron Burrows as Audrey Strange
- Julie Graham as Mary Aldin
- Tom Baker as Frederick Treves
- Eileen Atkins as Lady Tressilian
- Greg Rusedski as Merrick
- Wendy Nottingham as Mrs Rogers
- Amelda Brown as Barrett
- Peter Symonds as Hurstall
- Eleanor Turner-Moss as Diana Brinton
- Guy Williams as Dr Lazenby
- Jo Woodcock as Alice
- Alan Davies as Superintendent Mallard
- Ben Meyjes as Inspector Tipping
- Thomas Arnold as Jones
- Stewart Bewley as PC Williams
- Mike Burnside as George
Tropes and Themes
- Salcombe - most outdoor and beach scenes, and the tractor ferry
- Tides Reach Hotel, South Sands, Salcombe - Easterhead Bay Hotel
- Danes, Little Berkhamsted Lane, Berkhamsted, Hertford - Balmoral Court Hotel
- Still unidentified: the house used for Gull's Point, and the view of Gull's Point from the bay