All rise for a brand new TV adaptation of short story, The Witness for the Prosecution.

TuppenceTuppence City of London, United Kingdom

Following the success of last year’s three-part thriller And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie will be back on your screens this year with a new two-part adaptation of Christie’s 1925 short story, 'The Witness for the Prosecution'. Adapted by Sarah Phelps (And Then There Were None, The Casual Vacancy) and directed by Julian Jarrold (The Crown, The Girl), The Witness for the Prosecution will be co-produced by Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Productions.

1920s London. A murder, brutal and bloodthirsty, has stained the plush carpets of a handsome London townhouse. The victim is the glamorous and enormously rich Emily French. All the evidence points to Leonard Vole, a young chancer to whom the heiress left her vast fortune and who ruthlessly took her life. At least, this is the story that Emily’s dedicated housekeeper Janet Mackenzie stands by in court. Leonard however, is adamant that his partner, the enigmatic chorus girl Romaine, can prove his innocence.

We will keep you updated on the progress of the adaptation as it happens.


  • GKCfanGKCfan Wisconsin, United States
    I am looking forward to seeing more about who's cast in this!  Is this planned for another "Christie for Christmas?"
  • TuppenceTuppence City of London, United Kingdom
    The air date is yet to be confirmed but it would be great if it was. Who would you like to see cast as Leonard Vole?
  • tudestudes Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    It's an excellent idea! I hope this one will be so good as the movie! I 've read this short story weeks ago and I think it's one of the best A.C. short stories! Good news!

  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    Janet could be played by Imelda Staunton and Sir Wilfred by Jim Broadbent.
  • edited June 2016
    I hope this will be better than "And Then There Were None" that played on TV recently. I disliked the adaptation so much! I hope "Witness For The Prosecution" will be better. I have heard that Rachel Stirling will play Vole's wife.....interesting because her mother Diana Rigg played that role back in the 80's version. I think her daughter would be a perfect choice for the role. I just hope that they don't try so hard to modernize it. Just keep it faithful to Agatha Christie's story and to the Christie formula.
  • @Tuppence, Hi Tuppence, there is a lot of good information on WIKI about the film, it having 100% rating, and someone buying the rights to the play. It is the sort of background that fans find interesting. You could get an article written, with some good shots of Marlene Dietrich, and we could see which actresses we think would play the part in her style, or differently.

    Now is the moment when stimulus material is called out for to prompt in depth discussion and show the background. This is what they do on television when an event or production is in the offing. Also, I am saying this to be helpful - please tell your other moderators the facts, because it looks odd for GCKFan to be asking you questions about when the film is going to be made, when you both work for AgathaChristie Limited. 
  • It will be interesting to see which version the directors choose to do. WIKI states that Agatha Christie had been dissatisfied with the original ending for her short story - since the murderer escapes justice. She re-wrote the plot for the stage version and changed the ending. Very interesting to me that the original story was written in 1925, and appeared in Flynn's Weekly, as "Traitor Hands".. In 1933, the story ws published for the first time in the collection The Hounds of Death, in the UK only. The story was not published in the US until 1948! That is such a time lapse. Society would have changed so much during that period. I think some of the early Christie stories are rather melodramatic, and the characters are like glamorous, unrealistic figures from silent movies. I think of the actress in The Blue Train. The Man in the Brown Suit something of a caper - almost like a Buster Keaton movie. The characters seem to symbolise what is exotic and foreign, and appeal to the audiences' thirst for the latin or Eastern passionate lover. I wonder what sort of a love story the modern audience will want?
  • Interesting Griselda how you mention the early Christie stories being melodramatic and your analysis of the characters. Very interesting observation and something that I will need to take a look at and think about when I read the earlier Christie stories again. 
  • I don't feel that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one such melodramatic novel. She seems to have written using different styles at one and the same era of her career.
  • TuppenceTuppence City of London, United Kingdom
    The adaptation will be based on the short story that was published in 1925 and it will be set in the 1920s.
  • Tuppence said:
    The adaptation will be based on the short story that was published in 1925 and it will be set in the 1920s.
    This is the first time that an adaptation of the story will be based on the short story and not the play like the 1957 and the 1982 versions. 
  • If you google Agatha Christie, there is some interesting information about this new BBC showing of The Witness for the Prosecution. For those of us who are interested, and curious (detective style - well, what can one expect, given our interest in detective novels!) there is interesting info about Agatha Christie Limited. For instance, Hilary Strong, CEO, of Agatha Christie Limited will be co-producing the drama. It is worth perusing the press for interesting titbits on Christie.
  • There is an interesting article about forthcoming Christie adaptations at  It is interesting, and @MadameDoyle, I think you will be pleased to learn from it that a German-language rights agreement for the Christie books is in the offing. That would help fulfil the aim of your good friend and yourself  and the rest of us(!) to see the novels widely-read in languages other than English. Although it seems that the CEO of Agatha Christie, Hilary Strong, wants to do some modern takes on the stories, she does say she wants to keep the core plots the same. She also says that she doesn't want to work with any adaptor who doesn't love the books. That's good, and sensible. It could be a great thing if the Estate is going to be taking a closer active role in the creative process in future, not just approving or disapproving, but representing Dame Christie's legacy throughout the process. SPOILER There is a very ribbald swear word in this article, so be warned about reading it, if this kind of thing offends.I was quite proud of my Miss Lemon style research. I wish interesting articles were automatically put on the website. There is one on the Hollywood Review website.
  • @MadameDoyle - I'm using your @, Madame Doyle, since I earned a forum badge, this week, for mentioning fellow members by name. I was informed that it makes others feel I'm talking to them, and gets a dialogue going nicely.

     I found another article about rights to producing Christie films in other languages for other countries. The article was a couple of years old - April 2nd 2014 - but, nevertheless, about ongoing developments. Apparently, what Alison Rayson, CEO at Raydar, calls the 'big brands' of Poirot and Marple, are not the only names to be ripe for dramatising. (True, but ironic to think  what Jane Marple would have thought of herself becoming, one day, a big brand!) Quoting Ms Rayson, the article says:

     ' The prolific nature of Christie's works, however, means there are many other untapped and richly dramatic characters - equally brilliant sleuths including Colonel Race, Ariadne Oliver Sven Hjerson - who can be developed , brought to new audiences and become Nordic, German and French success stories in their own right.' 

    So, Madame Doyle, there is the means of generating interest in Christie's works in countries where English is not the main language. That is a great aim, and links with what we have been discussing on the forum. Very exciting. I think Colonel Race would have been flattered to hear himself described as a 'brilliant sleuth', and Sven Hjerson - well that brilliant sleuth is going to take quite a bit of development I should think to bring out the real nuances which Dame Agatha intended but was pretty subtle about including in her major works.

  • @Madame_Doyle: Sorry, that should have  been comma after Ariadne Oliver.
  • @MadameDoyle: The article about future films of Agatha Christie novels in other languages to English was at
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    Hopefully hen it won't have any of the bad aspects of the ATTWN Adaptation.
  • @Griselda - thank you for using @ to get my attention directly, Griselda.  I appreciate it!  I'm sure I've missed many comments that I would have loved to see, but if I have ignored anyone talking to me directly, it's only because I was unaware that I was being addressed (as I don't read all the threads).

    Thank you for the article links!  It's encouraging to see that Agatha Christie's work is being explored in other languages than English.  I have certainly enjoyed Nordic noir series and others in translation to English, such as Maigret, and it's a shame if Christie's work is unknown to other cultures because she was so important in developing the crime fiction genre.  She challenged nearly every assumption that mystery readers might have, and as we have mentioned in other threads on this forum, much of the way readers view the mystery genre (including films) is shaped by the work Agatha Christie did.  Possibly ABC Murders more than any other book has been used as an inspiration.  It wasn't just her creative plot devices but her creative technique, which she developed herself, that set her apart.  One of the benefits of reading her work in chronological order is to watch this development of style.  Murder on the Orient Express is the best example of her artistic and technical control in writing, and that's one of the reasons why it's so difficult to get a film version perfected--a script writer who is adept at all the juggling and paring is vital or it becomes too unwieldy. 

    I agree with you that introducing Col. Race or other characters in films rather than focusing so much on Poirot and Marple is a means of attracting new fans.  Something different is called for anyway.  Agatha Christie's name rather than Poirot and Marple should be the brand.  Generational research shows that younger people are feeling respect for those of their grandparents' ages more than previous recent generations have done, and the writers of the Marple series did a good job of making her likable to a vast audience.  Hopefully they can further the interest in Agatha Christie by presenting other lesser known characters who are just as attractive and likable.  If they strengthen Christie's name as the brand, the stand alone novels would be excellent choices to promote as well, without having to interject Marple into them in order to include them in a series.  That was an unfortunate decision on someone's part.  
  • I liked the adaptation of And Then There Were None but i find it a little too "cold" and "modern" ! I'm traditional and conservative about my Christie ;) but I can't wait to see the result of this new baby ! 
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