The Blue Geranium started life as a short story, and I was rather surprised to find that it had been turned into a two-hour drama for Agatha Christie's Marple. A number of Christie's short stories which have been turned into sixty minute episodes have seemed rather padded-out. So I did not watch the show first time around, but finally I have weakened and given it a try.
Unexpectedly, I thought it was pretty good. Needless to say, the scriptwriter, Stewart Harcourt, had to invent a great deal of plot material, but I felt he managed to accomplish the rather difficult task of blending the old and new. And I was amused to see in the cast list that the three small children who discovered a body near a river were young Harcourts – he and they must have enjoyed that! As ever, the cast was strong, and included Caroline Catz, whom I rather liked in that otherwise patchy series of a few years back, Murder in Suburbia.
I have always thought that Agatha Christie was a far better novelist than a short story writer, even though admittedly she did write quite a number of really good short stories. "The Blue Geranium" in its original form was enjoyable, and it is to be found in the first and strongest collection of Miss Marple short stories, The thirteen problems.
Watching this episode made me think that there is a particular knack to adapting a short story for television. It is sometimes done well (for instance, with some of the Sherlock Holmes adaptations that we have seen over the years) but often the results are disappointing. The reality is that, usually, the source material needs to be changed and expanded, perhaps radically. In recent times, some of the "improvements" on Christie plots have been deeply unappealing. But not, I felt, in the case of The Blue Geranium.