A warm, friendly Heather welcome

We are delighted to share Heather, an historic boat, artistic refuge and home for over a century, laying on the ancient Broads Waterways of Norfolk.

It is our aim to preserve the distinctive character of Heather, enabling future generations to enjoy her charms. We welcome you to explore the houseboat and bountiful riverside beyond...

Andrew, Timothy and Christopher

20 August 2012

Fitting Music for Heather

One of the more surreal comments made about the houseboat has been that 'she looks straight out of Miss Marple or Poirot.' Some of the crew are very keen on Dame Agatha Christie's work and indeed the stylish era of the 1920's to 1960's. The 'Queen of Crime' had close links to Norfolk and she often travelled by train via Wroxham to visit friends in North Walsham.

One of the Miss Marple stories, 'The Moving Finger,' was actually filmed on location in Norfolk by the BBC as part of their seminal television series which ran from 1984 to 1992. The series is a particular favourite of ours. With Joan Hickson playing Miss Marple, we believe they are the most faithful portrayal of Christie's unassuming, amateur lady detective. The films capture the canny and moral character of the elderly spinster perfectly. The triumphant production pictured the late nineteen forties and early fifties with seamless period detail, laced together with sumptuous music. We have been most fortunate in being able to procure the original music of the series written by multi-talented composing duo Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley. Ken Howard very kindly wrote the following narrative specifically for us about their collaborative work for the Miss Marple series:

The Miss Marple commission came about through an association with Guy Slater and George Gallaccio, who were producing the series for the BBC. They wanted something quintessentially English and Alan and I first came up with the title melody, which they loved, followed by the St Mary Mead theme.
The talented Andy Findon is featured on oboe in the recordings and John Altman arranged and conducted. 'Consort' is the name we gave to the studio orchestra for the EMI single ('Consort' was also used for By the Sword Divided) and Video Symphonic for the EMI cassette and CD.

The Marple series were tremendous fun to work on, since each film had a different setting and cast, and required specific and very varied 'mood' music from the Rachmaninov-esque 4.50 from Paddington to the steel band of A Caribbean Mystery. Each episode started with a meeting with the Director who would explain how he envisaged the music would be featured - most often to personify a character or enhance emotion, but sometimes to work in contrast to the visual to create a disconcerting mood, which is often an interesting use of the musical soundtrack.

Joan Hickson has always remained for us the supreme embodiment of Agatha Christie's Marple, and indeed the author hoped that she would take on the role. We were delighted when Joan sent us a really appreciative note saying the music would always epitomise the fantastic times she had playing the amateur sleuth. The Miss Marple theme continues to be played by bands and musical groups all over the world, including arrangements for church bells and tuned wine-glasses!

Alan and I went on to write many more TV film scores, including The Flame Trees of Thika, By The Sword Divided, Q.E.D etc. I also scored Shadowlands, Shadow on the Earth, Penny For Your Dreams etc. You can find details about Alan Blaikley and myself on our website: 

Pictured above are three record covers of Ken Howard's and Alan Blaikley's music.

With grateful thanks to Ken Howard.


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King's Head Staithe, Hoveton, pictured from Wroxham public Parish Staithe