Preview: Agatha Christie: Lucy Worsley On The Mystery Queen

Lucy Worsley - Agatha Christie: Lucy Worsley On The Mystery Queen

Series 1, Ep. 2/3 – Destination Unknown

In episode two, Lucy Worsley investigates Agatha Christie’s shocking disappearance in 1926, her subsequent discovery and memory loss, and reveals the profound influence this experience had on her writing.

On the evening of 3 December 1926, Agatha Christie left her home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in her Morris Cowley. The next morning, her car was found abandoned, balanced precariously on the edge of a quarry. Agatha’s coat, suitcase and driver’s license were inside, but the author had disappeared. What followed was the biggest manhunt in Britain and front-page newspaper coverage.

Was this a publicity stunt? A hoax? Or was Agatha the victim of foul play? Ten days later Agatha was discovered in a hotel in Harrogate, claiming to have lost her memory.

Lucy delves into this traumatic, watershed moment in Agatha’s life, visiting key locations from the chalk pit where Agatha crashed her car to Abney Hall, the grand house where she took refuge and which would go on to inspire several of her books. Lucy reveals connections between Agatha’s real-life experiences and her novels and uncovers new evidence about Agatha’s mental health and the cutting-edge psychiatric treatment she received.

In the late 1920s Agatha had experienced betrayal, bereavement, divorce and writer’s block, but also had her first encounters with the movies and journeyed to Iraq, an experience that would boost her confidence and begin her reinvention and recovery. It was in this period the author created perhaps her most famous character: the tenacious, elderly sleuth, Miss Marple. Lucy uncovers the factors that shaped this beloved protagonist and discusses her subversive brilliance with some modern authors including Kate Mosse, Jean Kwok and Ruth Ware.

Other contributors include Edgar Jones, Professor in History of Medicine & Psychiatry at King’s College London; Claire Hilton, Former Consultant Psychiatrist and Historian in Residence at the Royal College of Psychiatrists; Adrian Bingham, Professor of Modern British History, University of Sheffield; Zainab Bahrani, Edith Porada Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Art & Archaeology, Columbia University and Mark Aldridge, author of Agatha Christie On Film.

Agatha Christie: Lucy Worsley On The Mystery Queen

Friday at 9.00pm on BBC Two. The full series is also currently available on BBC iPlayer.

Image: BBC / Lorian Reed-Drake.

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