Saturday, January 26, 2008


With the 'Poirot' episode about "The Kidnapping Of The Prime Minister", the series should have been tossed over into 'The West Wing' universe. That's because the Prime Minister was actually named - as McAdam.

Here is the list of Prime Ministers who served during the Toobworld timeline of Hercule Poirot's peak period of activity (give or take):

1908 Herbert H Asquith

1916 David Lloyd George
1922 Andrew Bonar Law
1923 Stanley Baldwin
1929 James Ramsay MacDonald
1931 James Ramsay MacDonald
1935 Stanley Baldwin
1937 Neville Chamberlain
1940 Winston Churchill
1945 Clement Attlee

Not a McAdam in sight.

From a synopsis I've seen about the original story by Agatha Christie, the producers probably had no choice - she identified the Prime Minister as David McAdam. But they could have avoided the problem altogether by just referring to him as the Prime Minister and leave it at that. We could have then thought of him as whomever we wanted him to be.

What's particularly odd is that the episode had no problem in mentioning Lord Asquith when it came to the history of Irish Home Rule in 1914.

In the Toobworld timeline, "The Kidnapping Of The Prime Minister" was shown before "The Plymouth Express", which has inner proof that it took place in September of 1935. But at the same time, "The Million Dollar Bond Robbery" was broadcast before "The Plymouth Express" as well, and the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary took place in May of 1936. So we can't depend on a chronology based on the series' televised order.

Therefore, this episode could have taken place years before those other two episodes.

The reason I bring that up is because I think the case can be made that Prime Minister McAdam was in fact one of the actual Prime Ministers from the Trueniverse. And since it was broadcast well in advance of those other two lynchpins in the Toobworld timeline - by a full season, almost - I think we can place the episode as occurring during James Ramsay MacDonald's term of office. Perhaps even in 1934 to keep it in close proximity to the episodes surrounding it.

And since we don't actually see the Prime Minister because his head is all bandaged up, then that helps support the argument. (Of course, in the end that doesn't turn out to be much of a problem anyway. See the episode.....)

But if it is supposed to be MacDonald, why the use of the name "McAdam"? My splainin would be that "McAdam" was a code name. In fact, what we're hearing is not "McAdam" but instead "Macadam". It's a word that means (according to the Hyper-Dictionary) "a paved surface having compressed layers of broken rocks held together with tar".

Code names usually have some connection to the designated subject. For a good example: CJ Cregg, Press Secretary for the Bartlet White House, was code-named "Flamingo" by the Secret Service. (According to Bernard Thatch in the "Noel" epsode of 'The West Wing', she was "a freakishly tall woman".)

So "Macadam" could have been a reference to the fact that the government put together by Prime Minister MacDonald was barely held together and subjected to a lot of pressure and yet saving face by being a reference to rock-like strength.

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking with it. Sure, it might have been easier to dump the series into the alternate dimension of 'The West Wing', but who wants to lose the little Belgie from the main Toobworld?
By the way, James Ramsay MacDonald has a televersion. He was portrayed by the late Ian Richardson in "Number 10", a mini-series that looked at the lives of seven Prime Ministers. It was kind of the UK version of "Backstairs At The White House". (Pictured here is Richardson as his most famous Toobworld character - albeit from an alternate dimension - Sir Francis Urquhart of 'House Of Cards' and its sequels.)

Toby OB

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