A BBC Radio 4 full-cast adaptation of Simon Brett's comic murder mystery, starring Bill Nighy as the irrepressible Charles Paris.
Charles Paris (unsuccessful actor, bad husband, dipsomaniac) is currently appearing as a fork lift operator in a corporate video. It's not prime-time television or a major film, but it seems like easy money - until the fork lift is used to commit a murder. When Charles himself comes under suspicion, he decides to find out for himself who the murderer is. Meanwhile, as ever with Charles, life on the domestic front is not plain sailing. After inflicting damage upon his ex-wife's house, he finds himself offering her a berth on the houseboat he’s currently sitting for a friend. However, life on the water proves as tricky as life at work…Suzanne Burden, Tim McInnery, and Jon Glover are also among the cast in this dramatisation by Jeremy Front.
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A stronger entry in Charles Paris series
Irresponsible. Actor. Sleuth.
The plot is enjoyable but this is a cosy mystery so there isn't much tension here. I really enjoyed spending time with our sleuth, Charles, and hearing him interact with this cast of characters.
Obviously Charles Paris as performed by Bill Night is the main draw here but my favorite character is his longsuffering, semi-detached wife Frances. This story gives them some fun interactions.
The light and comical elements in this story work well, in large part thanks to the performances of the cast.
As with all of these adaptations, there are some changes made to bring the stories into the modern age and a general softening of Charles' character. Compared to the other adaptations however this felt pretty close to the original novel in tone and plot.
This is a good thing as the original novel was one of the stronger entries in the series. This story pushes Charles into a world that is less familiar to him and has great fun mocking corporate culture. The mystery is entertaining and it manages to lay enough hints that the ending makes sense without being obvious from the start.
I would suggest though to start with an earlier release before tackling this. While you will be able to follow the plot thanks to plenty of introductions and recaps, the character relationships are more rewarding when you have spent more time with them.
- Andrew Brack