The Fast Show’s Charlie plays Bond in Marple

The latest Marple investigation Caribbean Mystery, which screens on Sunday on ITV at 8pm, has been adapted by The Fast Show’s Charlie Higson, who has written several novels about the young 007 and has a cameo in the drama as James Bond. TV & Satellite Week interrogated the actor and writer to find out more…

So is 007 romancing Miss Marple?
“Well, no. I say the line ‘The name’s Bond, James Bond’, but he’s the nerdy American ornithologist who Ian Fleming took the name from rather than the bed-hopping secret agent. The producers wanted to include Ian Fleming, who lived in the Caribbean, so I put Bond in as a cameo as well. Ironically, Agatha Christie wrote a short story in the 1920s and her hero was called James Bond.”

Are you a Christie fan?
“If you write crime you have to read Christie and it is amazing how intricately constructed those books are, they are a masterclass. Both she and Fleming had their heyday in the middle of the last century, but their characters remain in the public consciousness because their books worked and are still readable.”

What did you enjoy about adapting this story?
“It’s the only time that Miss Marple leaves England so it’s exotic and I like the friendship between her and a fellow holidaymaker Mr Rafiel (Anthony Sher). It’s like a little love story where they butt against each other before he realises she is the cleverest one there and they work together.”

Did you enjoy working with Julia McKenzie?
“It was great fun because she is a huge Christie fan and knows the character inside out so she gave her input on whether things were right. She really cares about the show and wants it to be as good as possible.”

Do you still have fond memories of The Fast Show?
“Yes, it’s still close to my heart and next year I’m doing something for the 20th anniversary and also a project with Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield for the 50th anniversary of BBC2. With The Fast Show, we were accused of being just about catchphrases, but we made sure the characters were as real as possible. Now it feels like TV is waiting for the next big era-defining sketch show.”

Who were your favourite characters in the show?
“The Suits You tailors were the most recognisable, but I think Ted and Ralph became the favourites which was strange because it was an odd set up of a young aristocrat in love with his elderly Irish gardener, but people just bought into it as a lovely story. I’m quite a shy person and I just played Ralph as if I was back at discos when I was a teenager trying to talk to girls, but I know Paul got bored just saying ‘Yes sir’ or ‘No sir.'”

Is it rewarding getting young fans for your 007 and horror novels?
“Yes, it’s great if a teacher or parent says that their child has never finished a book, but that he has read one of mine and now loves reading… But it’s even better if they say the child now only reads mine!”