from MediaGuardian Online, UK, / by Jason Deans
ITV’s popular Miss Marple franchise has reinforced its reputation for quirky casting by hiring comedian Russ Abbot.
Sleeping Murder, which begins shooting on location in Devon this month, will feature Abbott as a local detective, inspector Primer.
Abbott was a staple of 80s and early 90s TV, with long-running ITV programmes such as Russ Abbot’s Saturday Madhouse and The Russ Abbot Show, which also featured the likes of Michael Barrymore, Bella Emberg, Les Dennis and Dustin Gee.
The two-hour ITV1 drama will also feature comedians Peter Serafinowicz and Dawn French.
Serafinowicz, whose credits include Look Around You, Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, and who provided the voice of Darth Maul in the Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, has been cast against type in Sleeping Murder.
He plays a mummy’s boy who is in love with the murder victim and hangs around a theatrical group watching her.
French has been cast as a singer in the same theatrical group.
The murder victim is played by Anna-Louise Plowman and the Sleeping Murder cast also features Martin Kemp, Sophia Myles, Sarah Parish, Paul McGann, Phil Davis, Geraldine Chaplin, Aidan McArdle and Una Stubbs.
One of the defining features of ITV’s new take on Miss Marple has been the large and stellar casts. The four Christie stories already broadcast on ITV1 have featured Simon Callow, Jack Davenport, Joanna Lumley, Sir Derek Jacobi, Jane Asher, Robert Powell, Amanda Holden, Griff Rhys Jones, Zoe Wanamaker and Elaine Paige.
Granada is shooting four more Miss Marples this year, including Sleeping Murder, with Matthew Read again taking on producing duties.
Edward Hall, a rising star of the theatre, will direct Sleeping Murder, which has been adapted by Stephen Churchett.
The new ITV1 Miss Marple is being executive produced by the Granada drama executives, Michele Buck and Damien Timmer; Phil Clymer, of Agatha Christie rights owner Chorion; and Rebecca Eaton, of US broadcaster WGBH Boston.