1. IT'S THE ULTIMATE COSY CRIME SHOW
Some detective dramas are dark, gritty and plumb the depths of human darkness. Others are simply there to entertain us while we have tea and biscuits, with the emphasis firmly on clues, puzzles and quirky suspects, preferably in country settings with the occasional vicar or two. Marple is the ultimate, quintessential cosy crime series. It's set not just in a bygone age, but a sort of idealized England of pretty rural lanes, chocolate box cottages, and quaint churches. The murders are tasteful and tucked away (no lingering in the autopsy room here), the atmosphere is serene and relaxed, and you just know that nothing TOO bad will happen (except in the case of the poor victim who kickstarts proceedings, of course).
2. IT WILL TEST YOUR WITS
If you love playing armchair detective, these are the stories for you. What makes Miss Marple ideal for home sleuths is how meticulously crafted each individual episode is, like a clockwork mechanism of well-timed revelations. Rather than dwelling for ages on individual characters and deeper themes, the episodes are unashamedly plot driven, leaving you free to test your own analytical skills alongside Marple's. Suspects are laid out in a row (metaphorically speaking), clues are deployed at regular intervals, and you're more or less encouraged to have a go at joining all the dots. You won't be able to resist.
3. IT WILL BRING ON LASHINGS OF NOSTALGIA
We mentioned just now how Miss Marple is set in a kind of picture-perfect evocation of a long-gone Britain, and we have a feeling this is one of the reasons the stories have been so popular for so long. In fact, it's probably even more powerfully appealing now, as the years go by and we get more and more removed from Miss Marple's era, and most of us can only imagine what life was like during those placid times. While we probably wouldn't want to actually step back into her world full time (we like the Internet, mobile phones and modern dental care too much for that), it's still really rather lovely to visit every so often. With Jane Marple as our guide.
4. SHE'S GOT (GRANNY) GIRL POWER
Is it a bit inappropriate to link the phrase "girl power" to Jane Marple? The lady herself probably wouldn't approve of such vulgar slang. But nevertheless, it gets the message across that Miss Marple is perhaps the best known female detective of all time. This is reason enough for all crime fans to make quality time for her, because she is quite frankly a national institution. And the fact that she's so unassuming and granny-like, with her knitting needles and sensible overcoats, makes her all the more precious and adorable.
5. IT'S GOT GREAT GUEST STARS
Now, we know Miss Maple would probably just tut if she knew we were getting excited about the guest stars. But really, when you have so many great British acting veterans in one place, how could one not take notice? There's a Doctor Who in the mix (very fresh-faced Peter Davison), a pre-Morse Kevin Whately, great British silver screen beauty Sylvia Syms, and all-round thesp legend Timothy West. Look out as well for none other than Donald Pleasance, star of The Great Escape and the Halloween horror franchise, and George Baker - a man familiar to cosy crime fans as the heroic Inspector Wexford of the Ruth Rendell Mysteries.