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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At last it's been released from the vaults of the BBC!
Hoorah - after almost 15 years of waiting, with only the book covers & an audiobook of 'Gaudy Night' to sustain the memory, I can finally watch the series that brought me to Dorothy L Sayers' brillant writing in the first place.

Edward Petherbridge & Harriet Walter fit beautifully into the skins of Lord Peter & Harriet Vane. Edward Petherbridge captures all...
Published on 14 Mar 2002

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7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Edward Petherbridge fails to take Carmichael's crown
I have this series on video since its first broadcasting on BBC in the uk. Yes it's an excellent adatation, but it leaves massive amounts of the book out, the relationship between Charles Parker and Wimsey is merely nodded at and not explored and athough physically matching the description of Wimsey in the books, Petherbridge does not have the same charm or wit. But on th...
Published on 24 Dec 2001


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At last it's been released from the vaults of the BBC!, 14 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Lord Peter Wimsey: Strong Poison [VHS] [1987] (VHS Tape)
Hoorah - after almost 15 years of waiting, with only the book covers & an audiobook of 'Gaudy Night' to sustain the memory, I can finally watch the series that brought me to Dorothy L Sayers' brillant writing in the first place.

Edward Petherbridge & Harriet Walter fit beautifully into the skins of Lord Peter & Harriet Vane. Edward Petherbridge captures all that makes Lord Peter so wonderful - the carefree "Wooster-ish" exterior that conceals of brillant mind, who even in adversity still takes pleasure in talking "piffle". The story has been changed slightly from the book but it is really just matter of simplification - the humour, plot & honesty that make Dorothy L Sayers' books such a delight all remain.

People keep telling me that 'Gaudy Night' has been simplified for the series but I can't wait for it & 'Have His Carcass' to come out and complete my collection.

I'm so glad 'Strong Poison' has finally been released and that I did not find it wanting. Why the BBC never repeated them (when the infamous Agatha's stories seem to shown on an almost continuous loop) is a mystery to me.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Except that the girl's innocent.", 14 Jun 2004
This review is from: Lord Peter Wimsey: Strong Poison [VHS] [1987] (VHS Tape)
Things are not going well at Harriet Vane's trial for the murder of her former lover, Philip Boyd - hearing the judge's summation, only the most unrealistic of minds could conclude that she is not guilty as charged.
One such mind, however, is that of Lord Peter Wimsey - the same Lord Peter who, normally a beacon of logic, unfailingly unspins the web of every criminal intrigue to which he brings to bear his intellectual powers, but who now, epitome of a bachelor that he has heretofore been, without so much as ever having personally met Harriet, is dead-set on marrying her. So when he tells his old friend (and as readers of Dorothy Sayers's books know, soon-to-be brother in law) Chief Inspector Parker, who was in charge of the investigation, that Parker has made a mistake, the policeman is unsettled; despite the water-tight case he feels he has put together. "Where is the flaw?" he inquires gingerly. "There isn't one," Wimsey retorts. "Except that the girl's innocent."
Thus, the scene is set for the first entry in Sayers's Wimsey-Vane canon, whose first three installments are brought to the small screen in this delightful miniseries. (The other two installments, "Have His Carcase" and "Gaudy Night," have the sleuthing pair investigate a mysterious knife-inflicted death in a seaside resort, where Harriet has gone to regain her peace of mind after her acquittal; and a serious of poison-pen letters and vandalism directed at independent women, and particularly women in academia, at Harriet's Oxford college. As the movie rights to the fourth and last episode completed by Sayers herself, "Busman's Honeymoon," were sold by the author, the BBC was unable to also include that particular installment; unfortunately so, as their version would undoubtedly have been more faithful than 1940's "Haunted Honeymoon" starring Robert Montgomery and Constance Cummings).
So, while Harriet is pining away in prison, dreading a jury verdict which, she feels, can only be delayed, not avoided entirely, and not knowing how to deal with the sudden attentions of a well-known member of the nobility, Wimsey busies himself with the search for Boyd's true murderer; whom he eventually finds with the help of his confidante Miss Climpson (whose presence in the jury box, unbeknownst to Harriet, has already proved instrumental in producing a hung jury despite the judge's damning summation) and her assistant, Miss Murchison; both of which ladies, while perfectly honorable, do not shrink from unconvential methods when called for in the pursuit of justice.
What most distinguishes this miniseries is its faithfulness to Dorothy Sayers's books, as well as its superb cinematography, marvelously capturing the settings; from Old Bailey and pre-WWII London to sleepy and somewhat seedy seaside resorts and the timeless grace and high spirits of Oxford University. Unfortunately (particularly so in "Gaudy Night") a number of subplots were dropped, but the essence of Sayers's novels is maintained; and much of the dialogue is taken literally from those. Edward Petherbridge nails Lord Peter's tone and exalted mannerisms, as well as his hidden vulnerabilities, to a tee - fans of Ian Carmichael's more physical, over-the-top interpretation be reminded that Sayers herself, in "Strong Poison," describes Wimsey as of "slight" build, while giving a rather unexpected impression of "controlled power." (Granted, though, that, conceivably having endowed Lord Peter with much of her own preferences in men, Sayers would not have Harriet comment, as she does in the BBC's version of "Gaudy Night," that he is "not much to look at;" in fact, she has her heroine veritably pining over a sleeping Lord Peter's physiognomy during that very novel's famous punting trip.) - Harriet Walter, similarly, shares more than her first name with the stories' female protagonist; she is exactly the Harriet Vane one might image when reading the books (I certainly did). Richard Morant as Lord Peter's faithful manservant Bunter is about a knife's tip too much of a jack-of-all-trades for my tastes - I can well see him "insinuating" himself into a suspect's household at his master's behest or (as in "Have His Carcase") shadowing another suspect all across London, but not necessarily fretting, as he does in "Busman's Honeymoon," over the sake of a case of vintage port, packed in eiderdowns in the back of a car and in danger of being rattled (and rendered undrinkable for months, if not years to come) by Lord Peter's brisk driving habits. Still, overall this is an outstanding production; undoubtedly one of the BBC's finest ever.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pitch-perfect Wimsey performance in an excellent production, 5 Jan 2002
This review is from: Lord Peter Wimsey: Strong Poison [VHS] [1987] (VHS Tape)
Edward Petherbridge delivers a pitch-perfect portrayal of Dorothy L. Sayers' upper crust 1930's detective, Lord Peter Wimsey. Do yourself a favor and check out this Lord Peter in the pivotal story in the oevre; the point at which he meets the love of his life, mystery writer, Harriet Vane (played admireably, if a little sourly by Harriet Walter). This is the first of 3 stories produced in conjunction with the BBC and Boston WGBH public television in the states, and the only one of the three to be available on video at present. The production values are top notch and Mr. Petherbridge does true justice to one of the most interesting and evocotive detectives of the 20th century.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars perfect casting, don't you know, 15 April 2003
There can hardly be a better example of perfect casting in the history of tv/book adaptations, than that of Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter as Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane in this excellent BBC production.
Leaving aside the uncanny physical resemblance to the characters as described by Sayers, both these fine actors give their roles the depth and complexity which is on the page but might be left behind in a lesser screen adaptation. So we have Harriet, not just a damsel in distress, but a smart independent woman who is also damaged, frightened and embittered. Her scenes with Wimsey all take place in prison, but despite this a sense of their developing relationship comes through and there is a real chemistry between them.
Petherbridge’s interpretation of Wimsey is note-perfect. Watch out for a beautifully played scene where he goes to see Miss Climpson to discuss ‘why people murder people’ over tea and cake. Visiting Harriet in prison he is by turns nervous, serious, business-like, frivolous, but always besotted. Incidentally, he has the most wonderful voice too!
All in all, a pretty faithful adaptation of the plot, all round excellent casting and good period detail adds up to great viewing for any Sayers fan. Would have got 5 stars but drops one for slight but important (to Wimsey anyway) deviation from the book at the end.
Not much in the extras department here, but a short interview with Edward Petherbridge provides some points of interest. A shame the interviewer doesn’t ask him a few more pertinent questions but maybe there’s more on the other DVD releases? Some input from Harriet Walter would have been fascinating but you can’t have everything.
Like many, I was introduced to Sayers’s elegant writing and fiendish plotting through seeing this series when broadcast in the mid 80s. Amazingly, it has taken fifteen years or more for the shows to emerge from the stygian depths of the BBC’s vaults. Why so long?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong stuff, 21 Feb 2007
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
A lot of women want to poison their ex-boyfriends. Only a few actually DO.

But the suspicion is enough to land a woman in the dock in "Strong Poison," the first of a trilogy of mysteries about eccentric detective Lord Peter Wimsey and his romantic interest, crime writer Harriet Vane. While this episode spends a little too little time on the interesting side characters, it's a compelling mystery that seems hopeless at first.

Lord Peter Wimsey (Edward Petherbridge) becomes interested in the trial of Harriet Vane (Harriet Walter), a mystery writer who lived with her boyfriend until he proposed marriage (it had all been a test). Six months later, after a visit, her ex dropped dead of arsenic. But Peter is sure that Harriet didn't do the crime -- and he's fallen in love -- and so becomes determined to break this watertight case against her.

And so he turns his attention to suicide, since there was plenty of motive for that. But the most promising lead turns out to be the dead man's cousin, a successful lawyer whose motives and opportunity remain unknown -- as the court tells us, the only food that the deceased ate was also eaten by the suspect. But the brilliant Wimsey knows he can find the answer, before Harriet's retrial.

"Strong Poison" probably had a special signficance for Dorothy Sayers. First, it introduced her alter-ego, Harriet. Secondly, some of the events that happened to Harriet -- living with a boyfriend, the "test" -- really happened in real life, although presumably Sayers didn't come under suspicion of having murdered her ex.

The murder itself is very intriguing, if very slow-moving and roundabout. The case against Harriet is practically foolproof, so it's intriguing to see Wimsey carefully pulling the chinks out of it, and exposing another motive for the dead man's death. But they include some funny (if too brief) moments, like Peter having tea with a hilarious lesbian couple, or the fake seance that Peter's secretary holds.

Not to mention some great dialogue ("I don't positively repel you or anything like that, do I?"), including Sayers' needling at double standards for women ("You are bearing in mind, aren't you, that I've had a lover?" "Oh, yes, so've I. Several, in fact. It's the sort of thing that could happen to anyone. I can produce quite good testimonials").

Petherbridge makes a perfect Peter -- tall, skinny and blonde, with a long nose and perpetually falling monocle, and the impression that he doesn't take himself too seriously. Walter is also quite good as the prickly, and the supporting actors (especially Richard Morant as Bunter) are all extremely good, right down to the locksmith-turned-preacher.

"Strong Poison" was a good start to the trilogy of Wimsey-Vane mysteries, and an excellent adaptation of Sayers' mystery. Definitely worth watching, for those who like slow, dryly amusing British mysteries.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MUCH better than Carmichael, 22 Jun 2002
This review is from: Lord Peter Wimsey: Strong Poison [VHS] [1987] (VHS Tape)
I've been searching for more Whimsey's that star Edward Petherbridge I think he is much better Ian Carmichael. I am hoping and praying that they get the cast back together to do the rest of the novels. Quite frankly the Carmichael ones put me to sleep! The ONLY thing I prefer in the older ones to the later ones is the previous Bunter. I think that the new Bunter is a tad too young. If I were dreaming, I would bring back the cast and make an A&E mystery series using this cast! One More thing! I was very happy in the readaptation of Peter's and Freddy's relationship in strong poison! While the Carmichael one's are authentic to the books I really wanted to reach through the screen and poor the Brandy on Freddy's head. The affable brothers is much more endearing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very good, 27 July 2007
I enjoyed all 3 installments in this adaption of the Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane love story. Some of the sub-plots have been dropped, but the stories are not spoiled. The 2 main actors are perfect for their roles, except that Edward Petherbridge was rather too old. Wimsey was supposed to be 40 in Strong Poison, and Sayers makes it clear in several of her stories that he looks considerably younger than he is. In Murder Must Advertise (not part of this mini - series), he is 42, but appears to be in his early to mid 30's. Petherbridge was 51 when Strong Poison was made, and looks every day of it. It's a pity they didn't make them 10 or 15 years sooner. Don't let this put you off though. Petherbridge is Lord Peter personified, and this adaption is a very enjoyable one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect casting, 4 Aug 2009
Exellent, I saw this on BBC when it was first shown and hankered after a proper DVD of the complete set of Edwaed Petherbridge/Harriet Walter Wimseys because they are the epitome of Wimsey for me, I always thought that previous portrayls (esp Ian Carmichael) were too "light weight" and showed Wimsey as a "flanneled fool" not, as Sayers always said in the books, a deep and thoughtful man. The Petherbridge/Walter combination are ,however, sublime showing the depth and rapport between the 2 characters from the first meeting,Also Richard Morant as Bunter was an excellent casting too Bravo
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 5 July 2014
This review is from: Lord Peter Wimsey: Strong Poison [VHS] [1987] (VHS Tape)
Arrived sooner than expected and with back up dvds, Brilliant !
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fine re-enactment, 15 Oct 2013
By 
'Fountain Pen' (London, England, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lord Peter Wimsey: Strong Poison [VHS] [1987] (VHS Tape)
This dramatisation evokes the period superbly, and the relationship between Wimsey and Harriet is handled very well. The plot seemed a little weaker than that of the other two stories in the Petherbridge-Walter series, but it's delineated very effectively, and it works.
Mr. Petherbridge plays Lord Peter very differently from the more robust Ian Carmichael, but it's very difficult to say which portrayal is the better. They're probably equal, and both extremely good. Richard Morant seems a more natural Bunter than Glyn Houston, and his relationship with Wimsey more interesting. Harriet Walter is perfectly cast as Miss Vane.
Not a cheap video, but I wouldn't be without it. Recommended.
[Purchased through Amazon]
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Lord Peter Wimsey: Strong Poison [VHS] [1987]
Lord Peter Wimsey: Strong Poison [VHS] [1987] by Christopher Hodson (VHS Tape - 2003)
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