on 30 July 2007
Light and frothy, this little series from the BBC is a delight for fans of crime and costume drama. Diana Rigg sparkles as lady detective Adella Bradley - clearly a woman ahead of her time - who, with help from chauffeur George (Neil Dudgeon) visits friends and country houses where murders just happen to occur.
The pilot episode is 80 minutes long and then there are 4 other 55 minute stories, each complete. A feast for the eyes and ears, the period detail and music of the roaring 1920's, are spot on and although the crimes themselves are portrayed in a less than serious way, the solutions are good and the clues well placed.
Adella's little asides to the camera - usually on the subject of marriage and men in general - add to the feeling for the viewer of being 'in' on a close chums adventures - and the cast is littered with well known British actors including Peter Davison and David Tennant.
If you like Marple and Poirot this little series will fit nicely into your dvd collection and will provide suitable viewing for the whole family. Pity more were not made - Gladys Mitchell wrote many books which could have been adapted - but I imagine that the cost involved would perhaps worry the BBC accountants.
on 3 March 2008
I can't begin to understand how I missed this show when in was on the BBC in the late 90's. It is sooooo good. I've always loved anything to do with Poirot, Mrs Marple and all that stuff... but I feel Mrs Bradley might be in a class of her own, you can't help but loving her.
A snooping old lady, quite different from Christie's Marple, Mrs Bradley is a rich and confident woman, a feminist avant-la-lettre. Diana Rigg is excellently cast as the intellectual Adela Bradley. She carries the role very well. The costumes, the settings, the ambiance,... it's all very much what one would come to expect of a BBC production.
I blame myself that there have never been more episodes of this gem. Apparantly the ratings wheren't quite all that so it ended after just five shows. If I had just watched it, I could have made a difference. Maybe if we buy enough of the dvd's they'll change their mind and make a new series?
"The countryside? A place where the birds and animals wander about uncooked." That's Mrs. Adela Bradley speaking. The mystery is titled Speedy Death, the first of five in this set. The place is an English country manor home. The time is the 1920s. And the who include an old friend of Mrs. Bradley, the wealthy Alastair Bing; his daughter Eleanor, who is Mrs. Bradley's god-daughter, confined to a wheelchair since an auto accident two years earlier and who will come into a fortune when she marries; Eleanor's fiancee, Everard Mountjoy; his son, Garde; Garde's best friend (who was driving when Eleanor was crippled), Bertie Philipson; and Garde's house guest, Dorothy Manners. Of course, there are assorted servants as well as Mrs. Bradley's chauffeur, George Moody (Neil Dudgeon). George is big, capable man who dislikes boredom as much as Mrs. Bradley does.
Adela Bradley (Diana Rigg) is a wealthy woman of a certain age, a divorcee, a psychoanalyst, a catcher of criminals, a woman who drives about in a Rolls Royce, enjoys cocktails, is skeptical about many things, especially love and husbands, and who some might say is, in one of the great descriptive words of the Twenties, louche. "I'm never entirely sure if I'm famous or notorious," she confides to us in one of her asides spoken into the camera. "Someone once said famous is to live in poverty and end up as a statue. Naturally, I prefer to be notorious."
Little does Mrs. Bradley realize that during her weekend at the Bing estate, where Eleanor's engagement to Mountjoy will be formally announced, she will encounter murder. That's in addition to calculated emotional manipulation, pre-planned adultery, psychotic obsession and a shocking discovery that takes place in a bath tub. Several people also wind up getting happily married, a state that neither we nor Mrs. Bradley expect to last for long.
In addition to the 90-minute Speedy Death, the set includes the four 60-minute stories that made up Mrs. Bradley's second (and last) season. We have Death at the Opera, where a person at a posh finishing school for proper young ladies is finished off properly and permanently; The Rising of the Moon, which involves a traveling circus; Laurels Are Poison, where a haunted house may include too many ghosts from WWI; and The Worsted Viper, a tale of ritual murder in a cozy coastal village which involves the daughter of Mrs. Bradley's chauffeur, George.
Does this all sound a bit over the top? Or just "Scary biscuits!" as one character says in Speedy Death? While the mysteries are variable, the series are a good deal of fun, thanks to Diana Rigg. She brings to the role authority and skeptical amusement. One or two of the stories become a bit too serious for their own good, but Mrs. Bradley soldiers on.
Diana Rigg was 60 when she made Speedy Death. She's a first-rate actress to begin with; she looks a knock-out in some almost outlandishly sleek Twenties dresses and hats; and she doesn't hesitate to show us the character, meaning herself, without make-up. If you like stylish mysteries, you'll most likely enjoy these. The DVD transfers are excellent. Extras include a key cast biographies and a cast list.
The light, period mystery drama is one of the things that British television does best. Set in the 1930s with very good costuming and period atmosphere and great acting from Dame Diana Rigg and Neil Dudgeon. The Mrs Bradley Mysteries are based on the novels by Gladys Mitchell and were written in the 1930s so have a natural authentic flavour. Adela Bradley, criminologist and amateur sleuth, solves murders with the assistance of her chauffeur, George. An amusing device of the series is the asides from Mrs Bradley to the camera, which often highlight the comedic elements of the story. In all a gentle, amusing series similar in style and content to Agatha Christie's Poirot, without gratuitous violent or bad language.
What a shame the BBC dropped the series after only five episodes as the author produced over sixty Bradley novels and stories. In 1999 after some debate the powers at the Beeb decided that the series was too sophisticated for the popular TV market and the public were not ready for some of the more racey Mrs Bradley Stories.
on 21 January 2012
my English is not very good so I am forced to see the episodes several times.
an excellent pretext, Diana Rigg is charming
I discover new details every time, it is very well done,
should continue the series.
on 13 May 2011
This is the complete BBC Mrs Bradley Mysteries collection featuring both the pilot and the four episodes made and it's a treat!
First the casting. Although Diana Rigg does not necesarily meet the description of Mrs Bradley in the original Gladys Mitchell books, she makes a fabulous job of portraying the character. Through the medium of 'to the camera' asides you get Mrs Bradley's wit and considerbale worldly wisdom, through her interactions with George the chauffeur you see her mischeviousness. Neil Dudgeon as the afore mentioned George is phenominal, restrained and understated and yet in two episoded in particular terrifically emotionally valid pieces of acting. Other cast members are particularly good, but shout-outs must go to Ronan Vibert and Peter Davison.
The settings and costumes show the BBC's usual attention to detail.
If you are a fan of 'classic crime' then this series can not fail for you!
Set in the 1920's, Diana Rigg as the strikingly garbed wealthy divorcee driven around in her Rolls by resourceful chauffeur George - murders guaranteed within minutes.
A 90 minute pilot followed by 4 hour long episodes - throughout, Mrs. Bradley delivering acerbic asides to camera. Many chuckles - as when she sits to endure "The Mikado" at a girls' school. heartily wishing Gilbert and Sullivan had never met. More seriously, there is elsewhere evidence of the lasting emotional scars suffered by those who fought in The Great War.
Leisurely, stylish and enjoyable, music of the period enhancing. It is also fun identifying so many familiar faces - some who seem since to have vanished; others on their way to current fame. (Note, for example, the stable boy seen briefly in Ep.1.) One episode even sports two 'Doctor Who's.
Diana Rigg is always a force to be reckoned with, but Neil Dudgeon as George is not eclipsed. (He destined to succeed John Nettles in "Midsomer Murders".) In fact the partnership works so well, it surprises there is no Season 2.
Make the most of this one then -just sit back and savour!
As the two previous reviewers have said, this is a great series for those who like period mysteries such as the Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey productions. But beware - there are only 5 episodes in total:
1. Speedy Death
2. Death at the Opera
3. The Rising of the Moon
4. Laurels are poison
5. Worsted Viper
In the UK (i.e. Region 2), the BBC have released all five episodes on this two-disk box set (with no extras).
In America the first, feature length, episode - Speedy Death - was released separately. There are therefore TWO US boxed sets - but still only the same 5 episodes:
Qne is called "The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries," but it only includes episodes 2-4 inclusive plus a few extras.
The other is called "The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries Series 1", which includes "The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries" plus "Speedy Death" on a separate disk (and the same extras).
on 11 February 2010
I loved this series when it was first shown on the BBC. A glib heroine who breaks the fourth wall to let the audience into extra bits of bitchy observation is both refreshing and rare. As most murder mysteries go, the plot of each episode, and the general portrayal of characters can be a bit stilted, but that's almost part of the genre. Miles better than Miss Marple, and with a quaint soundtrack.