This critically acclaimed Acorn TV Original started in the mind of M.C. Beaton, author of the Agatha Raisin books. Last month we had a chance to talk with her about the series. Beaton tells us what she thinks about Ashley Jensen, who her other favorite character in the series is, and why she thinks her stories are such fan favorites. She also talks about a possible love interest for Agatha in the all-new season, premiering Nov. 19 only on Acorn TV.
Agatha Raisin is one of the most popular shows on Acorn TV. Why do you think that is?
I’m delighted to hear that it’s so popular with American audiences. I think the series is such a hit because it contains “an escape.” Nobody gets tortured or mutilated or that kind of thing. The series is an escape from all of that – the shows really are family viewing. They’re something to enjoy at home on a dark, rainy evening.
Is Carsley based on an actual place? Is it hard for an incomer – a “newbie” – to move to this kind of village?
Carsley is based on a mixture of villages in the Cotswolds, not one in particular. I came to live in this part of England in 1990, but things have changed a lot since then. It’s now no longer so difficult for outsiders to be accepted here as it once was.
In the original book series, Agatha is an outsider, from the city of Birmingham. But in the television series she’s clearly from Scotland. Being Scottish myself, I was pleased at that, but I had nothing to do with it. That was just a happy coincidence!
So does Agatha really want to “blend in” (as she says) or does she want to stand out? She’s supposed to be taking early retirement – but is she the retiring type?
Agatha comes to Carsley and thinks she wants to blend in. But as we quickly find out, that’s not her style. Agatha has learned how to thrust her way up the career ladder. Although she’s pushy, I think you quickly develop an affection for her. And that’s the brilliant thing about Ashley Jensen – she captures the character of Agatha Raisin so well. Ashley has an incredible versatility as an actor.
Do you have another favorite character?
Yes, I do. My other favorite character in the series is one of the policemen – Bill Wong. He’s the first friend that Agatha makes when she moves to the village. I like Bill because he’s just so innocent.
What has been your involvement in Season 2?
I’ve been on the set during filming and have been there for the read-throughs. But it wasn’t easy for me. You see, I’m a bit of a controller, I’m afraid. But I know I’m not a screenwriter. So I eventually found out that I had to let it all go. We’ve got a wonderful executive producer for the series, which makes all the difference in the world. She’s great, and the shows are in good hands with her.
What else can we look forward to in the new shows?
We can look forward to a 90-minute episode! This really gives the characters “time to breathe.” It gives the humor a chance to develop, too. You would think that shorter would be funnier. But somehow this works better.
Is there any romance ahead for Agatha?
There is! Of course, whether it all works out or not is another question. You’ll just have to watch Season 2 for yourself and find out.