Producer: Bill Sellars
Director: Robert Tronson
FIVE RED HERRINGS/Episode 1/Intro by Alistair Cooke
Good evening, I'm Alistair Cooke.
Tonight we begin a new Dorothy Sayers mystery. New, that is, to television. This is the fifth of her novels to be televised, and we've been lucky to have them all: Clouds of Witness, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Murder Must Advertise, The Nine Tailors, and now, Five Red Herrings.
Dorothy Sayers fans don't need to be told anything new about her. Her literary fate has been very much that of P. G. Wodehouse about whom somebody said: This writer divides the world into two classes--those who cannot read his books and those who can read no others.
In looking around for something new to say about this remarkable woman, I went through several histories and scrapbooks of English literature in the twentieth century. She is not there. She is not in the encyclopedias. Everybody else who sat down and said, in effect, I am going to write literature is there. But Dorothy Sayers was only writing whodunits. And among literary historians, it is still a low form. But, I did come on a book–a series of almost reverent tributes from absolutely top literary men–the present Poet Laureate, and Evelyn Waugh, Lord David Cecil and such —called Homage to P. G. Wodehouse. So maybe one day soon, some double-dome critic will tumble to the extraordinary gifts of this extraordinary woman. For those of you not already hooked, may I just remind you that for Dorothy Sayers, writing mysteries was a late–and as it turned out an immensely profitable--hobby. She was the first woman to take a first—class degree at Oxford in medieval history. Then, surprisingly, she went into the new institution of an advertising agency and came out after two years with a bilious view of it. She became an expert on early manuscripts, on church history, on wine, on archeology, and architecture. She married a soldier, turned in the 1920s to writing mysteries, and was an instant success. In her later years, she became a devout and scholarly churchwoman and wrote religious verse and plays. In the play we are going to see, it's fairly obvious she knew, also, a good deal about painting and painters.
It begins in the late autumn of 1931. Lord Peter Wimsey and his faithful man Bunter are off on a train for a holiday in Scotland and they have rented a cottage in a village that's a favorite among Scottish artists. And we begin Five Red Herrings with two artist neighbors named Campbell and Ferguson.
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