The new three-part adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None was aired on the BBC just before Christmas. Agatha Christie’s novels and short stories have been done over and over again.
It is a testament to how popular the Queen of Murder Mystery is. Old favourites are re-invented, given a modern touch and lick of paint.
Christie is one of my vintage crime favourites, so I am always interested and quite eager to see what a new pair of eyes will bring to the table.
This particular adaptation has deviated from the original source material, which has awoken the ire in many a Christie fan. It did however manage to draw in between 5 and 6 million viewers on each of the three consecutive nights it was broadcast. It has also received critical acclaim, despite the deviation.
Not surprising seeing as it was blessed with a great cast of talented thespians, fantastic scenery and a compelling script. The star studded ensemble guaranteed at least a professional level of interpretation, which unlike some of the Miss Marple episodes in the last decade, wasn’t let down by shoddy and cheesy scripts. It was ruthless, sharp, a wee bit gory, to the point and pretty damn dark.
Sarah Phelps has brought forth the hidden depths in this piece, and her screenplay manages to stay true to the essence of Christie whilst revealing just how morbid and terrifying the her work can be. Perspective is an interesting aspect when it comes to Christie’s work, which is why one should never turn ones nose up a new angle.
In And Then There Were None the audience or reader is confronted with the fact that each of us is capable of the worst of deeds. Humans kill for money, love, greed, fame or perhaps just because we enjoy it. Murder most wicked.
But of course it’s me and yes I have a gripe. There was something I found terribly irritating about this version of And Then There Were None, indeed I felt it was a bit of a cop-out. Somewhere along the line the decision was made to cash in on the recent Poldark phenomena. When I say phenomena, what I really mean is using Aidan Turner as the equivalent of a Chippendale stripper to draw the crowds of lusty women folk in, and probably quite a few blokes as well.
What do you do when you want to draw in more than just the usual Christie aficionados, the armchair detectives and the comfy Christmas crowd?
You make sure a handsome young man with a delectable six pack and with a smile as wicked as devil himself, runs around in nothing but a towel for quite a few scenes. A very low hanging towel I might add. Just barely hanging on to his body, like a ripe apple in summer getting ready to drop from a tree. He spends a lot of time just wandering around in said towel, a fact that dowsn’t go unnoticed by Vera. I have to say I did snort a little at Vera trying to seduce him with the Mary Poppins like knitted bathing suit.
Then add a lascivious sex scene between his Royal Low Towelness and the only surviving female and hey presto you have added Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Well technically it was like Sex, Booze and whatever music they could come up with.
There was just no need for such desperate measures. The screenplay would have worked just as well without the half naked Turner or his bedroom door antics with Maeve Dermody. It eclipsed the performance of the other actors and turned the murder mystery from a noir to a bordello boudoir red.
Methinks Miss Christie would probably roll over in her grave.
Phelps is also adapting Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution for the BBC. I wonder how much it will deviate and how controversial it will be. How about less cheap thrills and more confidence in your cast and your screenplay.
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