Last year I heard through the grapevine that a television documentary on our own Dame Ngaio Marsh was in the works. Now it appears the hard work of many people, including driving force producer/director Aileen O'Sullivan, has come to fruition, with the welcome news that Ngaio Marsh - Crime Queen will screen as part of TVNZ's Artsville series late next Sunday night (13 February). Here is the press release information from the Big Idea website:
[This week's] Artsville is a docu-drama about New Zealand’s iconic writer of detective fiction, Ngaio Marsh.
Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn (Peter Elliott, Until Proven Innocent), the urbane English police officer and detective who stars in all thirty two of Marsh's internationally renowned best selling detective novels, comes to life to go in search of his creator.
Respected Kiwi actor Peter Elliott (pictured above, as Alleyn) says of his role, "I found playing Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn one of the most peculiar experiences of my life. It was like shipping coals to Newcastle, interviewing Eton and Oxford educated personalities in England as a private school, University educated, upper class character. It was a phenomenon both very odd and most enjoyable, this process of sleuthing around."
Elliott concludes, "Ngaio Marsh has joined the company of people to whom I am very grateful. She came to feel like a compatriot, a parent, a friend. I came to feel like one of Ngaio's Boys."
Producer/ director Aileen O'Sullivan says of making the show and learning more about Marsh: "It is a documentary I have wanted to make for several years and found the figure we discovered even more complex, more extraordinary and more engaging than I'd originally suspected."
Sullivan discovered Marsh fans exist in all corners of the globe, she says "we shot in Christchurch, New Zealand and in England, and in both countries were given tremendous support by crime aficionados and the friends and colleagues who treasure and respect Ngaio Marsh's work. It was strange to realise that while Dame Ngaio Marsh has been well celebrated here as a theatre director, the huge reputation she enjoys internationally as one of the all time Queens of Crime Fiction, has never been fully appreciated in New Zealand."
In Artsville: Ngaio Marsh - Crime Queen Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn is teased by 'glimpses' of 'Ngaio' during his investigation as she walks down a London street, sits reflecting in a café or slips into a radio studio for a recording. 'Ngaio' is adept at luring her Detective on, only to evade and escape revelation.
This is a cat and mouse game played by two professionals. Who is stalking who and why? Does Ngaio want to be discovered, to finally reveal who she is behind her masks?
I understand Artsville is usually screened at approximately 11pm, so it will be a late night for the Ngaio fans out there (or perhaps some MySkying will occur). For those who can't watch it 'live' this Sunday, so to speak, I understand that TVNZ usually makes its Artsville programmes available online following screening - just go to http://www.tvnz.co.nz/ and look in the On Demand section of the website.