Saturday, 23 July 2016

Doctor Who Vs. Agatha Christie, Part 1

The biggest mystery in the life of Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie (1890-1976) is undoubtedly the story of her disappearance in 1926, 
when she vanished for eleven days. She never spoke of those missing 
days, and the ninety year old controversy remains as intriguing as any 
of her crime novels.

In late 1926, Agatha's husband Archie told her that he wanted a divorce. 
On December 3rd, the couple quarrelled, and Archie left their house, Styles, 
in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to see his mistress, Nancy Neele, at Godalming. 
Later that same evening, Agatha disappeared, informing her secretary in a letter 
that she had left for Yorkshire. Her abandoned Morris Cowley was found beside 
a lake at Newlands Corner, near Guildford.
Despite a public outcry and a massive manhunt, the novelist was only identified 
on December 14th, as a guest at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel in Harrogate. Even fellow crime writers, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L Sayers took an interest
in the case.
Agatha was then diagnosed with an amnesiac 'fugue state', but many contemporary commentators believed she had staged a publicity stunt. In 1998, author Jared Cade speculated that Agatha had planned her disappearance, and wanted to publicly embarrass Archie. Biographer Andrew Norman also studied the case, and The Guardian reviewed his book here. The Christies divorced in 1928, and Agatha married the archaeologist Max Mallowan (1904-1978) two years later.

These events were dramatised in the British film, Agatha starring Vanessa Redgrave as the famous writer, and Dustin Hoffman as the reporter, Wally Stanton. Future James Bond actor, Timothy Dalton portrayed Agatha's adulterous husband, Colonel Archibald Christie (1899-1962). His affair is seen here as the catalyst for Agatha's breakdown, and she even booked into her hotel under the alias of Teresa Neele. The film (released by Warner in 1979) was screened on ITV3 today, and featured these ten Doctor Who cast and crew connections: 
  • Dalton played Lord President Rassilon in The End of Time
  • Carolyn Pickles (Charlotte) voiced Lady Meera for Big Finish's Army of Death (2011)
  • Paul Brooke (Foster) voiced Paolo for The Ghosts of N-Space, and Toby the Sapient Pig for Year of the Pig (BF, 2006)
  • Timothy West (Kenward) voiced Kai Tobias for Phobos (BF, 2007), Turvey for Cuddlesome (BF, 2008), and Dr. Magnus Soames in House of Blue Fire (BF, 2011)
  • Harry Fielder (Policeman), a veteran of the original run, had parts as a Guard (in serials PP, ZZZ, 4L, 4P, 5A, 5F, 5Z), a Crewman (SS, 4T), a Vogan (4D), an Assassin (4Q), a Tigellan (5Q), and a Krarg for Shada
  • Christopher Fairbank (Luland) voiced the Professor for The Wreck of the Titan (BF, 2010), and Doc Baroque for The Scapegoat (BF, 2009) - he is married to Camille Coduri
  • John Joyce (Waiter) had an uncredited role in The Myth Makers, and was Garvin in The Daemons
  • Hubert Rees (Official) made three classic era appearances, as the Chief Engineer in Fury from the Deep, Captain Ransom in The War Games, and John Stevenson in The Seeds of Doom
  • Peter Arne (Manager) had been cast in Frontios as Range, but was replaced by William Lucas when he was murdered in his London home in August 1983
  • Tony Bell was a boom operator on The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot too

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