Posted by: billpurdue | March 3, 2012

TV Tie-ins: old and new

I’ve been enjoying the series of Mrs Bradley Mysteries on BBC4 starring Dame Diana Rigg. They might be repeats, but I didn’t see them all the first time round and they’re certainly worth another look. The Mrs Bradley books by Gladys Mitchell are, I suppose, what Waterstone’s calls “Cosy Crime”, classic examples of which would be Agatha Christie’s novels, a far cry from Henning Mankell or Ian Rankin.

Gladys Mitchell was a very prolific writer: as well as producing 66 (!) Mrs Bradley mysteries between 1929 and 1984, she also wrote children’s stories, eleven novels under male pseudonyms (Stephen Hockaby and Malcolm Torrie) and many short stories which were first published in the Evening Standard. She was feted during her lifetime, but for a couple of decades after her death she was largely forgotten. She freely admitted that not all her 66 crime novels were up to the same standard, but I’m sure most of them were fine: I might try a couple at random.

To find out more about Gladys Mitchell, go to the Wikipedia site or a tribute site called “The Stone House”…. and by the way The Book People are currently offering 8 of the Mrs Bradley titles in paperback for £8.99

There’s a new series of “My Life in Books” currently running on BBC2, in which Anne Robinson interviews two celebrities (per programme) about the books they have found very important in their lives. Earlier this week, Pamela Stephenson chose Primal Scream by Arthur Janov, because of her interest in psychology (she had her own practice in the USA for a while). She also chose a book by P G Wodehouse and one about the Greek myths, whilst one of Alexander Armstrong’s books was the complete works of Shakespeare. Other guests on the series include Pam Ayres, Robert Peston and Russell Grant – quite a mix.

Pam Ayres’ choices included Just William by Richmal Crompton (I loved the “William” books) plus The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski [Fourth Estate £8.99 978-0-00-726507-7 ]. It’s quite a while since I borrowed this book from the library and if I remember correctly I didn’t finish it. Maybe I should have persevered.

I’ve also enjoyed Lucy Worsley’s BBC2 series about the history of the home – “If Walls Could Talk”. They were repeated on BBC4 last month. In January the paperback edition of the accompanying book came out [Faber and Faber £9.99 9780571259540]. According to the publisher this book is a “juicy, smelly and truly intimate history of home life”. It would be interesting to compare this book with Bill Bryson’s At Home.

Have a look at Lucy Worsley’s website. On the home page she mentions that her book If Walls Could Talk makes a “lovely gift, door stop etc”. (I think she is referring to the hardback edition) There are also two short videos – one about the history of toilet paper and the other about the origins of the codpiece!

Next time – a review of Matthew Kneale’s English Passengers.

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