Last Night's TV: Agatha Christie's Marple/ITV1
Wonderland – The Kids Who Play with Fire/BBC2
Fisherman's Friends/ITV1

I don't know whether you care why they didn't ask Evans or not, but if you're hoping for clarification here I'm afraid I'm going to have to disappoint you. I didn't know the answer before I watched Agatha Christie's Marple, never having read that particular novel, and I'm no wiser now that I have. I can tell you who Evans was, because he was played by Mark Williams, who could read out the fine print on a phone contract and make it interesting. Or at least I can tell you who one Evans was, because I was vaguely aware – through the light coma of the final explanation scene – that another Evans was sprung on us at the final moment. But I'm afraid I don't know what they should have asked Evans or why exactly this question was connected to the dying man who'd croaked it out two achingly long hours earlier. I fought sleep valiantly, I promise you, but there were a couple of moments when it had me pinned for a while.

Patrick Barlow did the adaptation, obligingly crowbarring Miss Marple into a plot that didn't have room for her and that showed obvious signs of strain, like an overstuffed suitcase threatening to burst its latches. In Julia McKenzie's oversweetened performance, she came across like a weird lavender-scented stalker, not a fatally underestimated presence in the corner of the drawing room but a manipulative obsessive who simply won't mind her own business. Her intuitions didn't seem all that impressive either: "Can't quite put my finger on it... but something's not right," she said at one point. Could it be the distracted madwoman running around the lawn at night, Miss Marple? Or the fact that everyone in Castle Savage is looking daggers at each other in a way that wouldn't escape the attention of a pre-schooler?

I know, of course, that we're not meant to take this kind of Scooby-Doo plotting seriously. And Barlow obviously meant some lines to be delivered tongue-in-cheek. "His son wanted me to look at his viper," one of the young women said at one point, with an insinuating lilt that Christie herself might not have approved of. And Williams had fun as the jungle botanist who talks of his orchids as "my darling children". But probably nothing short of a full-bore parody could have made the mechanism of the plot bearable, as it creaked slowly through its arbitrary and ludicrous revelations. They keep making the damn things – so I assume someone must enjoy them – but I wish all that talent could be applied to more original ends.

Wonderland – The Kids Who Play with Fire involved the far more nuanced mysteries of real human psychology, looking at three troubled children who'd found themselves referred to a Fire Service specialist unit dealing with firebugs. None of the three children here were full-blown arsonists. They just liked scorching things and were dangerously over-confident about their ability to stop a minor blaze from getting out of hand. "Other people drink and smoke and I just set fire to things," said Hulya defensively – a 14-year-old girl whose rows with her mother were almost invariably followed by a smell of burning. Liam, on the other hand, was inclined to burn holes in his mattress when he got stressed, which, judging from its condition, happened quite frequently. Both of them went for interviews with a therapist so sweetly condescending in her manner that I'd have wanted to set fire to her desk myself, just to get the expression of practised empathy off her face. But whatever she did seemed to work. Hulya's mother was coaxed into giving her daughter the occasional hug, and Liam got to spend a bit of quality time with his mum. In both cases, the rekindled flame of family affection seemed to make other kinds of conflagration unnecessary. Ryan – an Ilfracombe teenager with a mouth like a flame-thrower – was a tougher job but even he appeared to be coming round in the end, after his mother started taking parenting classes. That's where the combustion starts, it seems, whoever strikes the match in the end.

Fisherman's Friends, a documentary about a group of Port Isaac sea-shanty singers who were signed up for a record deal, was very nearly undone by the cosy voiceover, narrated by one of the singers themselves. But – inside the life-affirming clichés about close-knit communities and the joys of friendship – there was an intriguing tale here, about what happens when an amateur pleasure becomes a professional obligation. Having previously only sung on the beach for fun, fuelled by beer, the group suddenly found themselves rising early to appear on breakfast television and doing live performances at one o'clock in the morning on the QVC channel (they were sceptical, but shifted 3,500 units of their CD). Unfortunately, they all still had day job, and when the Cornish tourist season kicked in, juggling their singing commitments with running their businesses became almost impossible. They had also been subjected to a Spinal Tap booking at the Newquay Boardmasters festival, where they performed to a thin scattering of baffled-looking teenagers who were waiting around for the pop acts to come on. I'd have loved to hear what they actually said about that backstage, but instead we got an upbeat bromide about learning to take the rough with the smooth, and a segue into what looked suspiciously like a music-video treatment of one of their songs. It hovered close to advertorial at times, but they made a nice noise if you like your folk music salty.

t.sutcliffe@independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map