Julia McKenzie reveals some dark secrets about Miss Marple‘s latest investigation…

What’s the relationship between Miss Marple and Father Gorman, who’s murdered at the beginning of The Pale Horse?
“They were very close and they’ve kept in contact for all of these years, writing to each other a lot. I think if he hadn’t have been a man of the cloth, there would have been a romance and maybe a marriage.”

As the police investigate Father Gorman’s murder, Marple starts asking her own questions…
“What I enjoy most about the scripts is Marple’s relationship with the police. Marple does keep things from Inspector Lejeune and he keeps things from her. The police can’t find out the things she finds out. She will get into conversations with people who think she’s just a silly old woman.”

Why does Marple get involved?
“She might be just a little old lady but she has the most perceptive mind and she enjoys the chase because it will get a result. But, of course, the brutal murder of a dear friend makes this a very sad chase for Marple.”

Marple’s probing leads her to The Pale Horse Inn, where she soon learns that death can be caused by black magic…
“Marple has a growing knowledge of what’s going to happen at The Pale Horse and believes that wickedness must be punished. I always think anything with witches and covens is quite titillating.”

Are you easily spooked?
“Oh God, no. I’m from Enfield! When I was a kid, in my Grandma’s house, I was always a bit scared to go to the loo upstairs on my own. I remember sitting on the loo once when I was about five and thought I saw somebody walk past. You have that precondition of nerves, don’t you, and see things that you don’t really see.”

Had you worked with any of the Pale Horse cast before?
“I’d worked with Pauline Collins in the film Shirley Valentine, and with Lynda Baron and Nicholas Parson in the theatre. I hadn’t met Holly Willoughby before but apparently it had always been her ambition to do a Marple. She did one night in the middle of a field in freezing cold January – I don’t know that she’ll ever want to do another one.”

How have you settled into the role as Marple?
“I’m feeling more secure with Marple now, I’ve changed her very slightly, more to my liking. As I was thrown into Marple very quickly I didn’t have time to make many decisions, but now I’ve started to put little touches of grey in – and I don’t just mean in the hair!”

At what point does ‘Julia’ become ‘Marple’?
“It’s the shoes and then the hat. My make-up girl is fabulous, she puts on the hat and we both say: ‘And there she is.'”

*Marple: The Pale Horse can be seen on Monday, August 30 at 8pm on ITV1