in February I shared more details about Ngaio Marsh - Crime Queen, which was due to screen on TV ONE as part of its Artsville series, that month. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, that screening was postponed (the doco-drama was scheduled for a midnight timeslot - viewer feedback/outrage resulted in a delay in screening until later in 2011, at a more suitable timeslot).Several months ago (last year), I shared a scoop about an upcoming documentary on the life of Ngaio Marsh. Then
I'm looking forward to seeing this, as it seems like a fascinating production that has been put together - acclaimed actor Peter Elliott (Until Proven Innocent, Heavenly Creatures, Shortland Street) plays Inspector Alleyn, the urbane English gentleman police detective who stars in all thirty two of Marsh's internationally renowned best selling detective novels, who comes to life to go in search of his creator, Ngaio Marsh. 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."
Amen to that, Aileen. It's amazing how much Ngaio is overlooked and under-appreciated amongst our literary heritage, although hopefully that is changing with the likes of Dr Jo Drayton's excellent recent biography, this doco-drama, and the creation of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.
You can read some more information about the involvement of people in Canterbury, who knew Ngaio Marsh from her theatre days in Canterbury, here.
Elliott as Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn and biographer Jo Drayton walk the streets of Knightsbridge in England, Ngaio stayed with actor Jonathan Elsom and the Rhodes family that she adored, and we see the flat where she wrote her first crime detective novel A Man Lay Dead (1934). 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?
Artsville: Ngaio Marsh - Crime Queen, TV ONE, 10.20pm, Sunday 12 June 2011.