Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie, adapted by Michael Bakewell

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BBC Radio 7, 28 March 2010

Another case to extend the ‘little grey cells’ of the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (John Moffatt) – this time involving a golf club, some suspicious Frenchies and a pretender to Poirot’s intellectual throne, Inspector Giraud (Vincent Brimble). Inevitably everything turns out find; the murderer is uncovered; Giraud’s theories are rendered suspect and unworkable; and Poirot chides his faithful companion Hastings (Jeremy Clyde) for being too much of a romantic, and letting his heart rule his head.


To use a phrase coined by the critic Kenneth Tynan, Murder on the Links is the perfect play for life’s Aunt Ednas. Enyd Williams’ production offered mild diversions, but nothing that could either disturb or challenge any listener’s complacencies. In fact it actively sought to reaffirm them: the French people were either over-emotional or untrustworthy, the English were duffers (but well-meaning, at least), while Poirot stood on the outside, benevolently commenting on both nations while patiently solving the case. His methods were empirical and (in this play) unquestionably the best; human behaviour could be explained by rational means, with no need for psychological speculation. Freudian theories have no place in Agatha Christie’s world.


Despite the gruesome subject-matter, Agatha Christie’s novels actually take place in a never-never land, a fantasy world where good always triumphs and bad vanquished, however sophisticated it might appear. They are still incredibly popular both in book (or ebook) form, as well as on television and radio (I see that ITV1 are now rerunning twenty year-old episodes of Poirot on Sunday afternoons). However they do depend for their success on a willing suspension of disbelief.