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Wednesday July 18th 2018

Agatha | 1979

Agatha location: the Old Swan Hotel, Swan Street, Harrogate
Agatha location: Agatha Christie says at the Hydro: the Old Swan Hotel, Swan Street, Harrogate | wikimedia / Keith Edkins

The highly speculative story of mystery writer Agatha Christie’s disappearance for ten days in December 1926 originally centred on the relationship between Ms Christie and her husband’s mistress.

Enter Dustin Hoffman in a small role as an unlikely American interviewer. In come the rewrites. Out goes the central female-female relationship, in comes the Redgrave-Hoffman romance. Amazingly, it seems this does really happen outside crass Hollywood satires.

Christie (Vanessa Redgrave) leaves London for Harrogate in North Yorkshire, where much of the movie was filmed, though the more fittingly period York Station is used for Christie’s arrival up north. The hotel in which she stays, though, is the real thing.

Whatever her motives, Ms Christie did spend her mysterious retreat at the Old Swan Hotel, Swan Street in Harrogate – though in 1926 it was called the Hydro Hotel (the film opts to keep the present name).

She plots a strange revenge at Harrogate’s Royal Baths, Parliament Street, the town’s famous hot springs still open to the public. The spa town of Bath, in the West Country, was also used as a stand-in for 1920s Harrogate.