What Sarah Phelps has done with Agatha Christie’s stories has been nothing short of miraculous. When the BBC and the Agatha Christie estate announced it had signed a new deal in 2015, we weren’t quite sure what the fruits of the deal were going to taste like – more by-the-book Miss Marples and Poirots? Vanilla adaptations of some of her other stories? The fruits turned out to be something totally fantastic, and so far we’ve had two Christmas event series that have been meaty muthas, stuffed with emotion, heartbreak, tension, and extra characterisation and social context. Now we know for sure that Phelps will be back with us for a third Christie adaptation.
Thanks to her work on the likes of EastEnders, Dickensian, The Crimson Field and Oliver Twist, Phelps has become one of the UK’s best screenwriters – her dialogue is fantastic, her scene construction perfect, and she consistently displays a knack for rooting out and expanding the human stories from the bones of original stories. She also gives already well-known characters and stories so much more detail.
So I’m thrilled that she’s onboard for a new adaptation, hopefully in time for Christmas.
Even though I featured Ordeal Of Innocence in our Quite Large Crime Drama Preview (read that here if you fancy it), it has now been confirmed by the Agatha Christie official Twitter feed.
So what can we expect from Phelps’s latest re-imagining? Here’s the story:
The Argyle family is far from pleased to discover one of its number has been posthumously pardoned for murder – if Jacko Argyle didn’t kill his mother, who did? Dr Arthur Calgary takes a ferry across the Rubicon River to Sunny Point, the home of the Argyle family. A year before, the matriarch of the family was murdered and a son, Jack, was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Throughout the trial Jack had maintained his innocence, claiming he was hitchhiking on the night of the murder and he had been picked up by a middle-aged man in a dark car. Unable to locate this mystery man the police viewed Jack’s as a lie. Calgary was the stranger in question, but he arrives to late for Jack – who succumbs to pneumonia after serving just six months of his sentence. Feeling a sense of duty to the Argyles, Calgary is surprised when his revelation has a disturbing effect on the family – it means one of the family is a murderer.
We can’t wait. In the meantime, here’s Sarah talking about her approach to adapting Christie.
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