The Moonstone, BBC1

Programme Name: The Moonstone - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Mr Murthwaite (GUY HENRY), Rachel Verinder (TERENIA EDWARDS), Guardian (JAG SANGHERA), Lady Verinder (SOPHIE WARD), Rosanna Spearman (JANE McGRATH), Dr Candy (JEREMY SWIFT) - (C) King bert - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Fun and games: Rachel Verinder (Terenia Edwards) in party mode

Classic costume mystery for daytime

★★★ BBC1, Monday to Friday, 31 Oct-4 Nov, 2.15pm

MOONSTONE is a little gem for daytime viewers, a decent adaptation of Wilkie Collins’ classic mystery as part of the Beeb’s Love to Read season.

It’s good to see the channel mounting a proper costume drama for the afternoons. But while it is enjoyable, it is also a little plodding. Perhaps because the book, published in 1868, is credited with casting the template for the modern detective story, it feels mechanical and lacking a little in emotion.

John Thomson as Sergeant Cuff

The story kicks off in 1849. Franklin Blake (Joshua Silver) returns to England. His father has died and he must deal with the fallout from the shocking events of the year before when the famous Indian Moonstone was stolen on the night of 18th birthday of Rachel Verinder (Terenia Edwards).

Franklin can only win her heart, we discover, if he finds the thief. There are suspects, a celebrated detective, Sergeant Cuff (John Thomson), various stock Victorian types –mysterious Indians, miserable servants – and a country house.

If you like Agatha Christie and a handsomely mounted costume affair, then The Moonstone should have passed the afternoons nicely this week. If you have missed it, you can catch up, of course, on BBC iPlayer.

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