Devotees of Agatha Christie can take heart.

Producer Bill Kenwright has formed the Agatha Christie Theatre Company specially to tour the United Kingdom with Dame Agatha's plays.

The first of these, The Hollow, which dates back to 1951, was at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, last week and will be followed by a new production every year, to be launched at the Theatre Royal, Windsor.

Next year, the production will be The Unexpected Guest (1958) and in 2008 Spider's Web (1954). And we are promised that future productions will include Black Coffee (1930), Witness for the Prosecution (1953), Verdict (1958) and Go Back for Murder (1960).

Their prolific creator died in 1976, so her plays tend to be getting on a bit these days - but their popularity among amateur groups and the theatregoing public remains as strong as ever. It's easy to talk about stereotyped or even cardboard characters, but much more difficult to get away from the fact that she told a good story, liberally larded with red herrings - and still has The Mousetrap going strong in the West End after more than half a century.

Fortunately, her villains never prove to be a match for the observational and intuitive skills of people like Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

Her characters are usually conveniently gathered in a convenient manor house or other dwelling, although there are occasional exceptions, as in Murder on the Nile. And although they can be confident that there are several plot twists still to go, her audiences like to spend the interval solving the murder.

So the new company is a venture that will carry much goodwill. Its opening production has a strong cast that includes Kate O'Mara, Tony Britton and Gary Mavers.

There's good news about 3-1-6, the Euan Rose three-person thriller that concluded its first professional production at the Haymarket, Basingstoke, on Saturday.

The man who is half of the partnership that created the Brummie musical Wallop Mrs Cox told me: "It's gone very well indeed. Audiences have loved it."

Important though that is, more important still is the fact that half a dozen theatres, including two from the Midlands, one from London and one from distant Glasgow, sent representatives to see it and have asked for scripts; that plays publisher Nick Hern is now studying it; and that a television producer has asked Rose to adapt a section to see how it would work on the small screen.

The 3-1-6 company - Michael Lumsden, Sarah Manners and Natalie Rolls - have told the writer that if other people wanted to see it in performance, they would do an extract.

Euan Rose said, "They have been very supportive all the way through and they were very sad on Saturday night, but they said it had rekindled their love of the stage in comparison with television."

On the down side, not one London paper turned up. It's the usual story of nothing being expected to happen north of Watford, give or take occasional excursions to Birmingham Rep. And because the Arts Council has withdrawn its support for the theatre, hopes of a national tour appear to be in abeyance.

Watch this space.

In Astwood Bank Operatic Society's production of The Mikado - its fifth in 56 years - last week, it was good to see Barbara Hopton-Wilkes so confidently avoiding the trap that Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular operetta lays for carefree thespians.

As ever, her Katisha was required to sing, "And his daughter-in-law elect", not once but several times - and she did it admirably. Almost inevitably, however, the chorus that had to echo the line just as many times did what amateur choruses everywhere do more often than not.

Its version threw in an extra R, to give us the familiar but regrettable "daughter-in-lore-elect." And it grated, as it always grates. Musical directors, please note.

Coming very shortly: a production that sounds as if it has a good claim to be the season's final pantomime.

It is happening in Water Orton, where The Company of the Curtain Studio Group - that's its youth section - will be launching Cinderella for a two-night run in the Parish Hall on Friday.

The group is for youngsters aged 11 and over. Marion Slater has more details, both of the group and the company's senior section, on 0121 749 1135.

There's a plethora of productions of My Fair Lady these days - some of them, certainly, chosen because the show is 50 years old this year.

But it is not so often that you see a chance of sitting in on Pygmalion, the George Bernard Shaw original on which the musical is based. It dates back to 1913 - so it has clearly waited long enough for Solihull's Union Theatre to have a stab at it.

Under the direction of Mark Firmstone, the play will be challenging the company at Dorridge Village Hall from Thursday to Saturday next week.