Monday, November 10, 2008

A Family On The Boards Make For Uneasy Bedfellows

Say hi to my jaunty hat. I bought it at Banana Republic ages ago, but it recently re-surfaced after a lengthy time in my closet. I wore it to Whole Foods about 2 weeks ago, browsing incognito, so to speak. And I thought about it yesterday as I watched Agatha Troy wearing her jaunty hat in the Inspector Alleyn mystery Final Curtain.

Final Curtain was one of those cozy, drawing room-type murder mysteries played out in a family castle somewhere in the countryside, populated by a gaggle of dependent relatives of a pompous, domineering personality - the papa and grandpapa head of the household and the male authority figure. The fact that practically all of the occupants of said grand manor home have something to do with the dramatic arts [a theatrical family this is] adds to the eccentric charm of this episode. Think ham, and plenty of it.

The regulars all shine here, as always - Patrick Malahide as Inspector Alleyn, William Simons as Bre'er Fox, and Belinda Lang as painter Agatha Troy [she's my idol]. Some of the co-stars that I took note of included Graham Crowden as the easily-riled, iron-fisted patriarch Sir Henry Ancred. What an annoyingly lovable coot he was in Waiting For God.

Like countless times before, I recognized an actor's face but had no clue where from or, of course what his name might be. I now know Sir Henry's son Thomas Ancred is actor Peter Blythe, whom I remembered from David Suchet's Poirot episode One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. He was also murder suspect Captain Bingo Hale in my beloved Tommy & Tuppence: Partners in Crime episode Finessing the King, and appeared as 'Soapy Sam' Ballard in Rumpole of the Bailey [which I really do need to see but haven't yet]. He and actress Harriet Walter, who portrayed Harriet Vane in the Lord Peter Whimsey series, were romantically linked until his death in 2004; incidentally, she's the niece of Saruman himself Christopher Lee.

Another familiar face which I couldn't place was that of Eleanor Bron, who plays dutiful daughter-in-law Millamant Ancred. Lo and behold, she has a screamingly long filmography - she's been quite busy indeed. I'm sure I must have seen her in Doctor Who's Revelation of the Daleks and in Yes, Minister but I really remember her as Patsy Stone's creepy mother, in all of those flashback scenes in Absolutely Fabulous - 'take it away...and bring me another lover...' Yikes! Bron was also the female art fiend, her head swathed in a flowing purple turban, alongside John Cleese, who mistakes the Tardis for a piece of 'exquisite' art in that famous scene in Doctor Who's City of Death.

[Photo of Graham Crowden is from BBC Programs and photo of Eleanor Bron is from Sir John Soane's Museum]

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