Thursday, 16 June 2016


[Spoiler-Free] Amanda Barton is the self-proclaimed leader of the church bell ringers for the visit of the bishop. 

When she's found hanged in the belfry with a suicide note left beside her, Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) is not convinced she took her own life.

The bottom line: Who's the culprit? Colonel Mustard? The source material? The script? The budget? The actors schedule?

Based on a namesake short story by mystery author M.C. Beaton, Hell's Bells, the second episode of the eight-part series, is a bit of a disappointment compared to the brilliant premiere and the wonderful Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (the 2014 Christmas special). Both set the bar very high for the TV version of the Agatha Raisin books but Stewart Harcourt, who penned this second episode, was behind the adaptation of The Quiche of Death. So the lack of vitality, the absence of the usual dynamic between the main characters, and the conventionality of Hell's Bells are quite a surprise.

Agatha Raisin looks rather bored as Carsely's resident Miss Marple, already a seasoned detective after only two cases. The novel Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death was published in 1992, Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley in 1995 and Hell's Bells in... 2013. Maybe the short story was an odd choice for a third appearance of the character on television. Anyway, it's the kind of lacklustre episode you don't expect so early. Should we start to worry about Sky's little gem? At least there are a couple of good lines and, thanks to Katy Wix and Mathew Horne, a nice comedy act by Gemma and Roy in Marlowe's office near the end.

Also with Jamie Glover (James Lacey), Matt McCooey (DC Bill Wong), Jason Barnett (DCI Wilkes), June Watson (Mrs Josephs), Rhashan Stone (Reverend Jez Bloxby), Lucy Liemann (Sarah Bloxby) and Daisy Beaumont (Mary Fortune), Sally Bretton (Amanda Barton), Michael Byrne, etc. Produced by Mammoth Screen and Free@Last TV for Sky. Michelle Buck and Stewart Harcourt are the executive producers for Mammoth Screen. Barry Ryan and David Walton exec produce for Free@Last TV. Produced by Matthew Mulot. Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Christopher Willis. Titles by Light Creative. Distributed by Sky Vision. Directed by Geoffrey Sax.

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