Saturday 15 December 2018

Appointment with Bias

My sister is an Agatha Christie devotee. She's read all the books and seen all the adaptations. So a new three-part BBC Christmas adaptation of a classic Hercule Poirot mystery, The ABC Murders, will certainly be on her to-watch list. 

Ah but, she voted for Brexit and, by the sounds of it, this BBC adaptation is going to employing all the usual wiles of BBC drama to make a political point about Brexit which she may not warm to.

That point? That there's a direction comparison between the fascist Sir Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts in the 1930s and the world of Brexit and Donald Trump now. 

I trust my sister not to be taken in by such BBC nonsense.

Anyhow, here are the words of the BBC dramatist behind it, Sarah Phelps, in all their glory:
You don’t try to make [the novels of Agatha Christie] resonate - they just do, because we go round in cycles and the things we think we’ve left behind us historically are there, savage bunches of filth just waiting to erupt into our consciousness all over again. 
Hercule wasn’t born in Britain but made Britain his home during the First World War. In the 1930s, things were very much like they are now. The British Union of Fascists started to gain real traction in a really shocking way that people perhaps don’t know about. 
The language of it is exactly the language of Brexit and Trump. It’s all the same. Economically everything falls apart, with divisions sown and people looking for a scapegoat. 
Having been this celebrated Belgian detective, suddenly, being from another country is not a good thing to be. It taps into now. It’s genuinely chilling how similar it is.
Hmm. I'm no Andrew Neil, so I'm not going to call Ms. Phelps a 'mad cat woman', but maybe, just maybe, she needs to start separating fiction from fact an awful lot more, and also stock up on the Whiskas sachets? 

Anyhow, I don't think there's any great mystery as to what first attracted the BBC's commissioning editors to Ms. Phelps.

So, alas, there's no typical Agatha Christie-style twist here. It's more like Columbo in that the woman responsible for murdering The ABC Murders stands before us already. I only hope Inspector Japp is ready with his handcuffs. 

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