Miss Marple: 4:50 from Paddington

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Miss Marple DVD box set
4.50 from Paddington is a detective fiction novel by Agatha Christie, first published in November 1957.[1] Mrs. McGillicuddy, a friend of Miss Marple's, sees a woman being strangled in a train running parallel to her own. When police cannot find a body and doubt the story, Miss Marple enlists professional housekeeper Lucy Eyelesbarrow to go undercover.[2]

The BBC produced a series of twelve made-for-TV films between 1984 and 1992 under the original series title of "Miss Marple", all starring Joan Hickson as Jane Marple. 4:50 from Paddington was the ninth of the series and was first broadcast on 25 February 1987. It also featured Mona Bruce as Mrs. McGillicuddy and Jill Meager as Lucy. The series is available on BBC DVD as 'The Miss Marple Collection'. The Internet Movie Database lists the individual films under the longer title of 'Agatha Christie's Miss Marple:'[2]. The film includes several references to the crime taking place on the day of the launch of Sputnik I, dating it to October 1957.

Filming on the SVRSevern Valley Railway

Filming saw the most intense use of the railway since The Seven-Per-Cent Solution involving multiple locos and sequences of parallel running trains. At least 300 yards of track was re-laid on the Stourport branch and Kidderminster Loop Line sections for this purpose.[3]. 80079 was the locomotive used on the 4:33 train, while former resident 6960 Raveningham Hall was the locomotive for Mrs. McGillicuddy’s 4:50 train. GWR Small Prairie 4566 was also used in filming.

The first railway scene, which is set at Paddington, was not actually filmed on the SVRSevern Valley Railway. A porter explains to Mrs. McGillicuddy that she should not board the first train, the "4:33 stopping at all stations to Brackhampton", as it will be overtaken by the next departure, the 4:50, before reaching her destination. Mrs McGillicuddy therefore boards the latter train from which she watches the 4:33 depart. This scene contains several anachronisms:

  • After 1951 GWR carriages were renumbered with additional letters to account for the introduction of Mk 1 stock. However the carriages seen on the 4.33 at Paddington still have (fictional) GWRGreat Western Railway-style numbers like 6041 rather than the period correct W6041W. They also carry simple "G.W.R" and "Great Western Railway" lettering; it is likely that stock used at Paddington would have been repainted into BRBritish Rail or British Railways(W) livery by that time.
  • Although the locomotive seen hauling the 4.33 as it departs carries a smokebox number 80097, it is actually a Southern Region tender locomotive.

The remaining railway action was filmed in the SVRSevern Valley Railway. In the first scene, it is still daylight as 6960 is seen hauling the 4:50 through a cutting. Aboard the train, Mrs McGillicuddy reads her book but then dozes off.

The main action scenes were filmed at night. 6960 is first seen passing Bewdley South Box and entering Sandbourne Viaduct.

Mrs McGillicuddy is awoken by a train whistle as the two trains are running next to each other. The locomotives and their trains were filmed running parallel from the window of Bewdley South signal box and in a head on view of the two smokeboxes filmed from ground level between the two tracks, with the locomotives passing either side of the camera. The Bewdley South bracket signal can be seen in the second picture below. Shots of the crime taking place on the adjacent train were filmed from the window of Mrs McGillicuddy's compartment.

Having found no evidence of the crime, the police are unwilling to investigate. Some days later, Miss Marple and Mrs McGillicuddy retrace the rail journey to Brackhampton aboard a local train looking for possible locations where a body might have been thrown from the train. Their train, hauled by 4566, is seen in the vicinity of Devil's Spittleful (Rifle Range) Bridge on the Safari Park Curve with Burlish Top visible in the background.

Having established that an embankment near 'Rutherford Hall' was the only possible location, they arrive at Brackhampton (Bewdley platform 2),[note 1] where the two ladies alight from their compartment on GWR 5883 Brake Third. The carriage number is visible on the opened door. The carriage was also the subject of an article in SVRSevern Valley Railway News 149, Winter 2004-05.

At Miss Marple's request, Lucy Eyelesbarrow secures temporary employment at the Hall to investigate. While searching the embankment for clues, 6960 is briefly seen again at the head of a passing train.

Other information

Several other film and television versions of the novel have been produced, among them the 1961 movie "Murder, She Said" starring Margaret Rutherford and a 2004 episode of the ITV series Marple starring Geraldine McEwan.[1]

Both Bewdley and 6960 Raveningham Hall were used again during filming of the eleventh in the series, Miss Marple: They Do It with Mirrors.

See also

Notes

  1. The train is travelling towards Bridgnorth. Platform 2 is normally only used for departures to Kidderminster with Platforms 1 or 3 used for northbound departures, but was presumably chosen for photographic reasons on this occasion.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 4.50 from Paddington on Wikipedia (retrieved 7 January 2017)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Internet Movie Database (retrieved 7 January 2017)
  3. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 86

Links