There are some presenters and people on TV – and on radio – and no matter how interesting the programme they are introducing or how fascinating the topic, there’s something about them which just puts you off… or maybe it is just me. Actually it’s not just factual programmes and documentaries, if it’s a film with an actor I don’t like, I really struggle to watch it… so maybe it is really just me! Another foible.
Lucy Worsley is an eminent historian and author, she is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, and she is also a very popular presenter of factual TV series about historical figures, events, and other aspects of social history. She is a great character, and lots of people love her, and make a point of watching everything she is in, no doubt also reading everything she has written. Her sense of fun often involves her dressing up in period costume… I admire her scholarship, knowledge and her interest in so many different aspects of history… However I find it really difficult to watch any of her programmes, her funny little quirks and idiosyncrasies just distract me (which is ironic because I’m sure I have plenty of funny little quirks and idiosyncrasies!)
Yesterday, however, there was a repeat of a series of hers, ‘A Very British Murder’ and as I was passing through the sitting room and it was on, I actually sat down and watched part of it.
Lucy Worsley explores the Edwardian era and the golden age of detective fiction between the wars – the time of Dr Crippen, Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock films
I actually knew a lot about the case of Dr Crippen; one of my heroes is a man who lies in the churchyard overlooking our little village – I can almost wave at him from our front doorstep, Frank Castle Froest who was Inspector dew’s commanding officer, Inspector Dew who arrested Crippen. I knew a little about the other cases Ms Worsley described although the dreadful murder of Julia Wallace in Liverpool in 1931 was a mystery I had not come across.
As well as discussing real life crimes, Ms Worsley also discussed different crime writers, in particular Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. I’m a great fan of Mrs Christie, but I never could get into the Lord Peter Wimsey books of Miss Sayers.
One of the most interesting things in the programme was when Ms Worsley visited the home of Agatha Christy and spoke to her grandson; he had a recording of Agatha Christie herself, speaking about her work:
Plots come at such odd moments, when you’re walking down the street and examining a hat shop with particular interest suddenly a splendid idea comes into your head… a very neat way of covering up the crime so nobody would get it too soon. Of course all the practical details are still to work out. The people have to sleep slowly into your consciousness…
Isn’t that a marvellous description of writing about character – isn’t that just exactly it? The people have to sleep slowly into your consciousness… Agatha Christie was a genius…
So maybe watching Lucy Worsley was worth it!