Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Since we started the Literary edition of the "As Seen On TV" showcase this year, we've also featured televersions for Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, Father Brown, and Hercule Poirot. For 
this week in the showcase, we stayed away from the biggies like Miss Jane Marple or Peter Lord Wimsey. This gave others the chance to shine.


Grace Mitchell

From Wikipedia:
Gladys Mitchell (21 April 1901 – 27 July 1983) was an English author best known for her creation of Mrs. Bradley, the heroine of numerous detective novels. She also wrote under the pseudonyms Stephen Hockaby and Malcolm Torrie. Feted during her life (called "the Great Gladys" by Philip Larkin), her work was largely neglected for the two decades after her death.

Her first novel ("Speedy Death", 1929) introduced Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, a polymathic psychoanalyst and author who was featured in a further 65 novels. Her strong views on social and philosophical issues reflected those of her author and her assistant, Laura Menzies; they appear to have been something of a self-portrait of the young Mitchell.

Mitchell was an early member of the Detection Club along with G. K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers and throughout the 1930s was considered to be one of the "Big Three women detective writers", but she often challenged and mocked the conventions of the genre - notably in her earliest books, such as the first novel "Speedy Death", where there is a particularly surprising twist to the plot, or her parodies of Christie in "The Mystery of a Butcher's Shop" (1929) and "The Saltmarsh Murders" (1932). Her plots and settings were unconventional with Freudian psychology, witchcraft (notably in "The Devil at Saxon Wall" [1935] and "The Worsted Viper" [1943]) and the supernatural (naiads and Nessie, ghosts and Greek gods) as recurrent themes.

'The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries'

Dame Diana Rigg

Earth Prime-Time

From Wikipedia:
'The Mrs Bradley Mysteries' is a British television drama series, produced in-house by the BBC for broadcast on the BBC One channel, based on the character created by detective writer Gladys Mitchell. It ran in 1998 and 1999, consisting of five episodes in total; a one-off special in the first year followed by a series of four episodes in the second.

Some co-production funding was contributed by the United States PBS broadcaster WGBH. In the US, the series was shown in PBS's 'Mystery!' anthology strand, the host of which was Diana Rigg, who was also the star of 'The Mrs Bradley Mysteries'. Wearing 1920s clothes, she introduced each episode to the audience:

"Adela Bradley doesn't mince words. And why should she. They are her greatest weapon against fools, cads, criminals...and ex-lovers. Words also came easily to Adela's creator, Gladys Mitchell, who published nearly eighty novels in her long lifetime. Gladys introduced Mrs. Bradley in 1929 in the book Speedy Death. She endowed her breezy heroine with attributes she herself possessed including an interest in Freud and a passion for all things British: Morris dancing, mayday rituals, and the Loch Ness Monster. Over the course of some sixty-six mysteries, Adela Bradley married and divorced three husbands, was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and a consultant to the British Home Office. She also developed prodigious abilities at pub darts, snooker, billiards, and knife throwing. One thing she cannot do is knit."

Joining Mrs. B. is her handsome confidant and chauffeur, George Moody, played by Neil Dudgeon. Wherever their Rolls Royce carries them, they encounter murders that people are just too embarrassed to report to the police.

The characteristic cackle and crocodilian looks were absent, and the plots and characters were changed.

From the source:
Mrs. Bradley was dry without being shrivelled, and bird-like without being pretty. She reminded Alastair Bing, who was afraid of her, of the reconstruction of a pterodactyl he had once seen in a German museum. There was the same inhuman malignity in her expression as in that of the defunct bird, and, like it, she had a cynical smirk about her mouth even when her face was in repose. She possessed nasty, dry, claw-like hands, and her arms, yellow and curiously repulsive, suggested the plucked wings of a fowl…
Strange to say, her voice belied her appearance, for, instead of the birdlike twitter one might have expected to hear issuing from those beaked lips, her utterance was slow, mellifluous, and slightly drawled; unctuous, rich, and reminiscent of dark, smooth treacle.

It doesn't appear as though Mrs. Bradley has been considered in connection to the Wold Newton Universe, at least based on a search of the prime website for Philip Jose Farmer's concept.  But there might be something to be found in such trivia as theories of relateeveety......


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