Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie, adapted by Michael Bakewell

Contact Us

BBC Radio 7, 28 March 2009
Another case for Hercule Poirot (John Moffatt) to solve, this time involving a birdge game, three fellow sleuths, a quartet of potential killers and a pile of red herrings. Once again the Belgian brainbox emerges triumphant as he exposes the killer through patient exercise of his "little grey cells."
Cards on the Table is chock full of contrivances: who in their right mind would invite four potential murderers and four sleuths to a bridge party and expect nothing to happen? And how is that everyone just so happens to be connected with the victim? (pace Murder on the Orient Express). But we don't look for coherence in a Christie work: what matters is whodunit and why. Once again we did not have to look far for a solution: Poirot neatly tied everything up, leaving not a single loose end. There's something very comforting about Agatha Christie - although someone invariably comes to a sticky end (leading one to speculate why sleuths like Miss Marple and Poirot appear to have so many friends, given the fact that a murder always happens when they are around), order is always restored by the end and everyone lives happily ever after ... until the next murder.
Casting inevitably plays a part in the success of a Christie adaptation - remember the star-laden casts of the films of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile? Enyd Williams's radio version of Cards on the Table likewise was graced by the presence of Donald Sinden and Stephanie Cole as two of Poirot's fellow-sleuths. Their dialogue was crushingly banal - particularly at the end, when all they had to do was to congratulate Poirot on his ingenuity - but it was nice to hear it delivered with hearty conviction.