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Maureen Lipman, Jill Baker, Jeffrey Segal and Nicholas Jones.
Directed by Christine Gernon
First transmitted 15th March 2003
Ratings 9.15 million
When infamous feature writer Donna Henry savages leading fashion designer Marco Bergman in print, he's so shocked that he takes his own life.
Resolved to avenge his father's death, Claude Bergman sets out to teach Miss Henry a lesson, by demonstrating that the world is not, as she seems to be believe, full of black and white certainties. He pulls off an astonishing feat of metamorphosis, by changing into a black man right before her, whilst appearing to threaten her in front of her bathroom mirror in a London hotel.
Once again it is down to Jonathan Creek to find a rational explanation for the apparent miracle... a miracle that on this occasion seems to have been achieved with a little help from Groucho Marx.
Bizarrely, however, the riddle does not end there, as the tragic suicide of Marco Bergman becomes the focus of an even more puzzling investigation... one that involves the life of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a drawer full of socks, and a parrot named Harvey. [Solution]
Five quick questions to test your knowledge of the episode.
"Maureen Lipman was in it, and it was a spooky one, actually. It was about an elderly man with bad eyesight being forced to jump from a window because he believed his house was on fire. It was a really horrible crime, but a lovely house that we filmed in. A beautiful house. I can't actually remember where it was exactly, but it had elaborate grounds and Maureen was really good fun, really good value."
"I can't remember how I got to the Brendan Baxter character. I think I was slightly reminded of Tracy Alman and Allen McEwan who was a big hotshot producer, a very successful kind of West Coast feel, entrepreneurial character."
I don't think Ade was in my mind when the character was written, That was an idea that cropped up in the casting process, and I had worked with Ade before on a series called If You See God Tell Him. I knew Ade was a very, very able and talented straight actor as well as very funny and so I was absolutely thrilled when he read the script and said that he wanted to do it.
Marx for trying: Claude's trick with the mirror was based upon a routine in the classic Marx Brothers film Duck Soup. The Marx Brothers - Chico, Harpo, Groucho, and Zeppo - had a string of hit movies between 1929 and 1949. Zeppo quit the movie business after Duck Soup, whilst a fifth brother, Gummo, left the gang to become a theatrical agent even before their first film.
The Solution: (point your mouse over the space below)
There are two mysteries to solve here. Firstly, Claude set up Donna Henry by working with hotel staff that had a grudge against her.
They rigged a mechanism in her room that enabled them to slide away the mirror at a crucial moment, revealing the bathroom in the next suite. As with most adjacent rooms in modern hotels, this was a mirror image of Donna's bathroom. An accomplice, probably Claude's sister Louise, wore the same dressing gown as Donna, plus the moisturising face pack Claude knew Donna always applied each night. Claude then mirror-acted with Louise for a few seconds whilst he 'accidentally' uncovered his masked face - a trick inspired by a similar scene in the Marx Brothers' film, Duck Soup. Not seeing her own face clearly because of the face pack, Donna naturally assumed she saw her reflection, and that of Claude behind her.
The attacker in Donna's bathroom was another man entirely, and conveniently allowed to escape by the hotel manager after he revealed he wasn't Claude.
Secondly, Jonathan realised that Marco Bergman had lost his sight - a fact covered up by his family to convince others he could still design. Louise used this to her advantage. Knowing a wartime incident in a burning plane had left Marco with a fear of fire, she rigged a tape, set to play via a timer on the stereo in her father's bedroom whilst she was out.
The tape contained sound effects of fire, and shouted instructions from Louise that the house was burning down and that he should exit via his window and jump to mattresses below. Of course, there were no mattresses, and the blind, terrified and confused man fell to his death, believing what he heard on the tape was real.
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