7 new TV adaptations agreed for BBC One

TuppenceTuppence City of London, United Kingdom

Agatha Christie Productions Ltd and BBC One have cemented a unique production deal that will see Agatha Christie Ltd‘s production arm deliver seven new Christie adaptations over the next four years and will begin by working with leading indie Mammoth Screen on the first of these adaptations.

The first novel to be adapted is one of Agatha Christie's personal favourites, Ordeal by Innocence, followed by a ground-breaking murder mystery set in Ancient Egypt, Death Comes As The End

Which other adaptations would you like to see?

Read the full story here: http://www.agathachristie.com/news/2016/seven-new-christie-dramas-promised-in-deal-with-bbc



  • edited August 2016
    I like the fact that Agatha Christie's non-Poirot and Miss Marple books are finally given full attention but what I'm concerned about is the quality of the productions and whether they will be faithful to the material instead of attempting to modernize and be on the cutting edge. If the recent And Then There Were None production is an indication of things to come then it's best to not even bother filming the books. 
  • According to the write up, it will be Christie's most celebrated works which are being adapted to make the remaining five of the seven, so it should be obvious which they will be: e.g., the good ones, which the critics like best - and not the weak ones.
  • @Griselda, which of the "good ones" do you think they will film? 
  • I think they should do The Crooked House, and do what I suggested on this forum, e.g. have SPOILER Josephine die when carrying out her 'accident' attempt using the stone and the outbuilding door. That way, the diary can be found later to reveal all, and you won't have the controversial and shocking actual ending which appears in the novel. The  young child will come across as vulnerable and rather pathetic, instead of malevolent and lacking of the grace and innocence of childhood. She could be portrayed as a victim of neglect owing to the self-absorption of her egotistical parents - and nice parallels could be implied with today's so called  'have it all' parents. It will make a nice little twist since audiences will think that Josephine has actually been murdered. Marks on the chair could point to the self-engineered nature of the 'accident' and the male protaganist could solve this riddle. The story would resonate well with our times: the self-made millionaire with the eye for new businesses (parallel today's tech millionaires), the work ethic of the elder daughter, and the fact that adult children can't actually afford to move out of home - and, surprisingly, are finding life and earning a good living harder than was the case for the previous generation.
  • I am so excited that one of my favorite Agatha Christie novels, Death Comes as the End, will be adapted into a tv movie! If I were to choose 5 other Agatha Christie novels to adapt faithfully into tv movies, I would choose The Sittaford Mystery, Murder is Easy, They Came to Baghdad, Appointment with Death, and Nemesis. I chose They Came to Baghdad because it is a very interesting work which, as far as I know, has not been filmed yet. I really enjoyed both The Sittaford Mystery and Murder is Easy and would like to see movie versions of them without Miss Marple grafted into the stories. The most recent tv movies of Appointment with Death and Nemesis were really atrocious and so I think both of those stellar novels deserve another chance.

    Of course, in my dream world, Francesca Annis and James Warwick would reprise their roles of Tommy & Tuppence in new adaptations of N or M, By the Pricking of My Thumbs, and Postern of Fate.

    I have not read Crooked House, Towards Zero, or The Man in the Brown Suit yet, but from what I hear, they might also be turned into some interesting tv movies.
  • edited August 2016
    @Griselda, here is an article about Crooked House coming to production, and the article was from 2012:


    I haven't heard anything else about it since. But with the new Witness For The Prosecution (with Ben Affleck directing and starring) and Murder On The Orient Express (with Kenneth Branaugh doing likewise) films hitting the big screen I'm sure Crooked House will as well. If not the big screen it might be a part of the 7 film deal with BBC One.....or it might hit both.

    But what worries me are the unnecessary liberties these films might have -- modernizing, adding senseless scenes which Agatha Christie would never write in her books
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I am really Excited by this, Which 'The Good Ones' are is a matter of Opinion, I am glad Ordeal by Innocense and Death Comes As The End, The latter because I am not keen on it so whatever they do can only be an improvement, If I could choose others for them to do for that reason I would choose Passenger To Frankfurt, Destination unknown, They Came To Baghdad and Sparkling Cyanide, I also think they might improve Crooked House but I am really interested to see who someone might cast as Battle and who the Beeb would choose as Bundle, Caterham and Codders so I hope they do the Bundle Books and The other 2 non-Poirot Bundle Books and I would also choose The Man In The Brown Suit, I would just ask one thing, PLEASE don't put David Walliams in any, Pretty Please.
  • @P_Lombard, I wish Francesca Annis and James Warwick would reprise their roles too. It's time for them to finish the T&T stories. In my mind's eye they ARE T&T! Annis & Warwick would be the appropriate age now to play in these late stories from the series.

    Also please post more on the forum P_Lombard. Would love to hear more interesting insight and discussion from another Christie fan since the forum isn't quite as busy as before.
  • cameronjhwcameronjhw Albuquerque, New Mexico
    I'm glad that the BBC has lined up seven more TV adaptations of Christie's works as well as doing a new two-part version of Witness for the Prosecution.  Although I don't see why they are doing another version of the ABC Murders. I thought the Suchet version from the Poirot series was handled very nicely.  However, I was glad to hear that Ordeal by Innocence would be one of the new ones even though I've seen the one done on the Marple series with Geraldine McEwan.  i didn't like that one too much because of the inclusion of Miss Marple.  Hopefully the new one will capture the tense psychological mood and suspense of the original novel.  I was very happy to hear that there also will be a new adaptation of Death Comes as the End.  I thought the book was an intriguing novel because of it being the historical mystery novel Christie wrote and I'm very curious as to how it will be portrayed on the small screen with its Ancient Egyptian setting around 2,000 BC.
    I think some of the other Christie works that could be perfect for these new TV adaptations are Crooked House (which is Christie's other personal favorite).  I've been wanting to see a new TV version of this novel because it never has been done before. Also it would be intriguing to see the odd Leonides family portrayed on TV but more importantly because of its shocking ending (Spoiler alert) the 11 year old child Josephine as the killer.  Considering how in today's society this particular ending is shockingly true and disturbing. Other Christie novels that I think they should do as well are Sparkling Cyanide (which I remember seeing as an American TV movie set in modern-day America and I didn't really like the actors in that one)Other ones they should do are Murder is Easy, Endless Night, and a TV version of The Mousetrap/Three Blind Mice.  All of the Poirot novels and most of the stories have been done and so have the the Marple novels.  I think they should focus on the stand-alone Christie novels especially ones that were done on the Marple series which to me was a bad idea to do.
  • A pretty good version of Endless Night was on television in  the UK a couple of Christmases ago. Check it out. The lead character was superb, and will surely be asked to play the part of a sociopath in future.
  • I agree with you Tommy_A_Jones that Passenger to Frankfurt is one of the novels I would not mind if the screenwriters attempted to improve. My favorite part of Passenger to Frankfurt is the introduction where Agatha Christie talks about her approach to writing and introduces the novel. To me, the introduction seemed to promise a much more interesting story than the one that Christie ended up executing. I think that the screenwriter who adapted Elephants Can Remember did a good job of taking a novel, which in my opinion, was weaker than Passenger to Frankfurt and turned it into an interesting movie by cutting extraneous characters, reducing the repetitiveness, increasing the number of viable suspects, and placing a greater emphasis on the strengths of the story (the always humorous Ariadne Oliver, the romances that get lost in the original novel, and Celia's longing for the truth about her parents' death). If Elephants Can Remember can be redeemed, I think it may be possible to redeem Passenger to Frankfurt through a similar process. Sir Stafford Nye and Lady Matilda are both interesting characters who are absent for large chunks of the novel: a movie version should focus mainly on the parts in which they feature. One aspect of Passenger to Frankfurt that might work better in a film would be if the disturbances all those diplomats are constantly fretting over were shown rather than merely talked about. The biggest problem with adapting Passenger to Frankfurt is the plot is very confusing at points (especially the whole fake Hitler subplot): these confusing subplots would either need to be cut or clarified. It would definitely be a challenge adapting Passenger to Frankfurt, but as Tommy_A_Jones suggested, a good screenwriter might succeed in producing a movie version that is better than the book.

    Destination Unknown and They Came to Baghdad seem like very similar novels (both are international spy thrillers where evil schemes for world domination lurk beneath false philanthropy): it was not very surprising to learn from John Curran's Murder in the Making that elements of the two plots were originally entwined when Christie was planning these novels. So I am not sure it would be the best idea to release movie versions of these two novels back to back. Of the two, I think They Came to Baghdad is much stronger in terms of plot, humor, and characters. They Came to Baghdad was a fun read and I think that the story already has everything necessary to make a good movie. Destination Unknown would be greater challenge because the novel is driven more by its themes than its plot. For a movie version to work, it would really have to embrace the novel's emphasis on the gullibility of geniuses, the danger of utopian thought, the celebration of normality, and the emotional journey of Hillary Craven.

    Sparkling Cyanide is a rather problematic novel, both in terms of plot and characters. The solution depends on a plot point which some readers consider highly improbable. The novel has some interesting characters (the Farradays, Ruth Lessing, George Barton, and Drakes), but spends too much time on some less interesting characters (Anthony Browne, Iris Marle, and Colonel Race). It would probably work fine as a movie, but it just is not a novel I would place high on my list of books I think deserve a good movie version.
  • GKCfanGKCfan Wisconsin, United States
    According to the contract, a film (or TV) adaptation of The Mousetrap cannot be made until six months after the show closes in London, and it shows no signs of shuttering now.
  • Hi P Lombard. What is the plot point to which you refer in Sparkling Cyanide, please? Is it the handbag on the table one? I think the notion of the female accomplice (is it Ruth?) and her psychology is very good. For me, this is the starting point of the story which might have got Christie thinking; the psychological insight which she perhaps had had.  This woman, SPOILER, an efficient secretary, is not going to be moved by romancing, and the killer knows it. She is hard and practical, and likes the lure of money.
    I do admire this novel for those psychological elements, and the way that a change in this female character's thinking is hinted at so the reader could just about have guessed her to be involved. But to make a good screen version, I think the director might have to carefully establish the social setting. I feel that Agatha Christie was out of her depth with it. These characters, Rosemary and her husband and their crowd seem, rather than English, American (if anything) in their lifestyle: glamorous and rich and smooth. Agatha Christie's middle class characters are usually scatty and shabbily well-heeled like those who appear in a novel from a similar era, in At Bertram's Hotel: one senses that Agatha Christie knew these sorts of people and the things they would say very well. There is lacking the little mannerisms and habits which give insight into personality; instead there is an atmosphere of blandness around the family members, including the mother of the murderer. I think it would be good to give this family a particular identity. Not just any businessman, Rosemary's husband could be a racing driving mogul or something, and the film could have some interesting visual scenes.
     The killer in this novel is the typical sociopath in psychology, similar to the one in The Body in the Library, Endless Night, Taken at the Flood, etc, and Christie involves him in the story quite well, always showing what he does rather than putting the reader inside his head.
  • Griselda said:
    Hi P Lombard. What is the plot point to which you refer in Sparkling Cyanide, please?

    Major Sparkling Cyanide Spoilers: I was referring to the suspects changing their place at the dinner table. John Curran in the Secret Notebooks complains: "However, some reservation remains as to the feasibility of the scheme. Is it really likely, especially in view of the subsequent investigation, that no one notices the incorrect seating arrangement vital to the success of of the plot? The preparation and mechanics of this are masterly and the telling of it is very daring (re-read Book I, Chapter 2 and admire the audacity of even the name) but while the concept is undoubtedly clever, the practical application of it is somewhat doubtful." (223) A long while back, there was a debate on a version of this website about whether or not this plot point was tenable. As I recall, most of the commentators voted no, but a few said it was tenable if all the suspects had drunk a bit too much.
  • tudestudes Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    I'm curious to see how it will be the adaption of Death comes as the end. I hope it will be a good one.
  • On the subject of the plot point in Sparkling Cyanide, I think that during social occasions, especially ones dedicated to somebody else, and at which you are there to support and be polite, you do go along with the flow and play your social part, not wishing to make a fuss about anything, and waiting to see if you are correct, if someone else is going to notice, and these are just split second thoughts, since 95% of  your attention is trained on your companions.
  • tudes said:
    I'm curious to see how it will be the adaption of Death comes as the end. I hope it will be a good one.
    If they play their cards right, Death Comes As The End can be a really great adaptation and to see the beautiful Egyptian landscape, clothing, and way of life would be a treat for us Christie fans. 
  • MrSebastiMrSebasti Czech Republic, Pilsen
    I really want to see The Sittaford Mystery, The Secret of Chimneys or stories from The Mysterious Mr. Quin
  • The Sittaford Mystery was done really quite powerfully, and not long ago, so I don't think it will be done again. They changed the plot, of course, but it would probably still entertain audiences if shown as a repeat.
  • edited September 2016
    The Sittaford Mystery should definitely be done over again, this time properly without the inclusion of Miss Marple. But again I'm hesitant to even request it because I've been so dissatisfied with many Christie adaptations as of late. The only current adaptations that I've been happy with were some of the late Poirot's such as Five Little Pigs, The Hollow, After The Funeral, Sad Cypress, Halloween Party, Mrs. McGinty's Dead, and I think Cat Amongst the Pigeons was good though I didn't care much for the javelin scene which was a bit too much. The murder method reminded me like something Michael Meyers from Halloween would do. 
  • GKCfanGKCfan Wisconsin, United States
    According to the screenwriters for Cat Among the Pigeons, the murder-with-a javelin scene was filmed very differently from how they pictured it.  They didn't like it much, either.
  • They should have stuck with the revolver instead of the javelin. I know a gun was used in the last scene of the film but it made more sense using that. 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I Quite liked The Adaptation I have it, as it is one of my Favourite Poirot Episodes, I didn't like the change where someone dies who shouldn't or it maybe the other way round but apart from that I liked it a lot.
  • I just caught the tail end of the Joan Hickson 'The Moving Finger'. It was a delight, and I will try to access the whole episode. Let me know anyone, if you know where to get it.

    Richard Symington was well-cast and played. He was presented as being in his late30s, early 40s, and looked settled and respectable but spruce and well-preserved enough to be attractive to a good looking young woman, and still vital, one felt. There was no attempt on the part of the directors to style the character as excessively nerdy, and as an uptight professional man. The actors seemed to understand their characters, and to respond with subtle nuance to anything another character said. There were slight changes to the dialogue from the book, but sympathetically done and showing a deep understanding of what is going on between the characters.

    I was struck that, in a sense, the standards for drama were lower then in terms of creating a spectacle. There was no necessity to chintz up the sitting room and the antiques and make it a sensory delight of velvet and chinking delicate china. No desire to present the past as another world of another time, as an alien zone like a trip down the rabbit hole into wonderland. It felt, in these 1980s productions, as if the directors were educated in social history and instinctively knew how life was like in the decade in which AC had set the story: they sensed a continuity from the past into their present. I wonder today if directors do read widely at all:- we know that certain ones have owned to not having read Agatha Christie books before.

     In the Hickson version of 'The Moving Finger' there is no self-conscious wondering, as it were, on the part of the director, about what will this bit look like to the audience; what will they be thinking of this and how can we build in an awareness of their possible response to our direction. For instance, the scene in which Symington carries an unconscious Megan down to the kitchen is awkward because you can see her backside sticking up clad in pyjamas, and you think the actor might wobble carrying her over his shoulder, down all those stairs,  but, even so, there is no sort of second guessing by the directors about what a perceived fickle and easily-bored audience might be thinking, e.g., deciding to have Symington puffing or panting or stumbling, or having him be coy about handling her and touching her. They just do the scene. It is as if the directors are saying, 'Look, this is what it says in the book, so this is what we are doing. It will have to be ok.' The presumption seems to be that it is there to entertain, it probably will entertain, and they have done a workmanlike job  with it. Perhaps audiences watched television more uncritically in the 80s.

     Today, the pressure to break new ground, thrill with the visuals, deseminate a social political interpretation of the times is overwhelming.

    What I don't get, is that if 'cosy crime is so awful (and cosy crime is an oxymoron in my book, if ever there was one), then why do audiences sit down every Sunday night and watch Downtown Abbey, The Young Victoria, repeats of Are You Being Served; it's all cosy fare, as is Coronation Street, and Britain's Got Talent, and, from American, Friends, The Big Bang Theory.. It's all about respectable people sometimes experiencing scandal or drama in their life, and that is what Agatha Christie presents in her stories. What are new production teams saying: that audiences can only relate to Resevoir of Dogs or Pulp Fiction type themes?There is a real call for cosy drama on television, and why the new Agatha Christie adaptations will need to break new ground, I just don't know. 

    Some current, famous actors, comedians or dancers doing their own take on a character - that should be enough to make audiences want to watch the new dramas.
  • I wish they would do another version of Seve Dials Mysteryany chance?
  • CrookedQuinCrookedQuin California, United States
    I think it would be interesting if they did what one of the Poirot episodes did by combining a short story collection into a film, with the back stories of each characters tying together with short stories. There would be a lot of possibilities. Or they could just combine only a few, like two-four short stories. 
  • edited September 2016
     Griselda said:
    Today, the pressure to break new ground, thrill with the visuals, deseminate a social political interpretation of the times is overwhelming.
    And that's the problem with these new Christie adaptations. How to go about filming a certain scene from the book and making it effective to the TV viewer is one thing (look at the scene in Sleeping Murder with Joan Hickson when Gwenda is at the theatre watching a performance of The Duchess of Malfi) but to take a scene and make it visual for the sake of compromising and changing a scene in which the book intended means only one thing -- Agatha Christie's stories are as Laura Thompson said in An English Mystery: Agatha Christie, "merely used as vehicles". It's not about the story, it's about attracting the viewer at the expense of mangling her stories to produce an audience -- in other words, "ratings" which means money.  When A.C.'s daughter Rosalind Hicks was alive, she fought hard to protect her mother's stories when they were adapted onto the screen. She wasn't about commercializing and merchandising. It was about being true to her mother's vision and work. I wish Rosalind's son Mathew --Christie's grandson, would do the same. 

    Griselda said: 
    Richard Symington was well-cast and played. He was presented as being in his late 30s, early 40s, and looked settled and respectable but spruce and well-preserved enough to be attractive to a good looking young woman, and still vital, one felt. There was no attempt on the part of the directors to style the character as excessively nerdy, and as an uptight professional man. The actors seemed to understand their characters, and to respond with subtle nuance to anything another character said. There were slight changes to the dialogue from the book, but sympathetically done and showing a deep understanding of what is going on between the characters.
    Perfect assessment! And this is how all Agatha Christie characters should be played onscreen -- with understanding, normalcy, and subtlety, not hammy, silly, and camp as I see in many of these newer adaptations. When they do that it's not her characters anymore. Sure they have the same name but it's not Christie's creation. I've been reading Nemesis and if they took a character like Elizabeth Temple and made her into an alcoholic woman with hang-ups, sure, the actress playing her would have the same name as Christie intended but the character is no longer Agatha's.  These adapters believe that Agatha's characters need work but if they needed such, why are they shallow and one-dimensional? If something needs work you're attempting to make it better, not worse. You'd think the characters would have more depth. But they don't. It's because Christie's characters don't need work because they're not one-dimensional -- they're full, round, three-dimensional characters. How can Agatha Christie write about and give insight into human nature and the depths of the human heart and be accused of creating one-dimensional, shallow caricatures at the same time? What an oxymoron! No wonder she is such a misunderstood writer. No, her characters LOOK shallow by APPEARANCE.

    Christie doesn't need work, it's the production team. The problem is it takes a skillful adapter, director, and production team to portray these characters faithfully on the screen. There are some who haven't read one single book of hers. And if that's the case they can't say that Christie's characters need fine tuning. And to those who have read the books and say they still need fine tuning need to read the books again and study the characters more closely . . . that's your job! I give props to the actor who played Richard Symington and to the skillful production team involved. 
  • You are totally right, Christie Fan For Life, there is a profound misunderstanding about Christie's characterisation. If we look at the Hickson 'The Moving Finger' again, with a scrupulous eye, we see characters are conveying, through slight pauses, and changes in pace of movement, what the characters are thinking. Here is Richard Symington, he is surprised Megan has asked Elsie to leave the room. He is slightly put out and cold. (Megan has pushed her social advantage: she's used Elsie's first name as though she is one of the household staff: Symington calls her Miss Holland to denote respectfulness). Megan is firm, and a part of her is watching to see his reaction. Blackmail isn't articulated,  but it is suggested in every movement and phrase. He doesn't look Megan in the eye, but tries in tone to preserve his demeanor but his voice has a gentle conciliatory note. If they did that scene today, the actor playing Symington would have to look like a stuffed shirt who is totally gobsmacked. There would be a gaze of malice in his eye, at least two minutes long. He would have to characature a posh person being shocked, and he would have to stand for all male chauvinists in history who have ever underestimated a woman. When they do the adaptation, it will probably a history lesson in how awful posh people used to be.

    The director (and the writer) of Downton Abbey seemed to understand subtlety. Perhaps they can be involved in the Christie adaptations.

    I do still think that it would be good to do 'The Moving Finger', perhaps without Miss Marple (as they don't want to have another go at her, and because Miss Marple arrives very late in the novel anyway). 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    The Writer of Downton Abbey is an Actor turned Writer, he is well versed I think in Ettiquette and The Nobility, he is a Tory Peer and respectful of that way of life, which rightly or wrongly doesn't seem to be the Case anymore, if you have no respect for a certain way of life or the ways of yesteryear it must be hard to write respectfully or witg Subtlety which results in Modern Adaptations not being done the way people who are life-long fans of the books would wish. 
  • Griselda said:
    The director (and the writer) of Downton Abbey seemed to understand subtlety. Perhaps they can be involved in the Christie adaptations.
    I've heard that Crooked House was supposed to be made on the big screen with Julian Fellowes being the screenwriter (he's writer for Downton Abbey) and Neil Labute directing it. Well, it's been a couple of years since any further news came from that. But I recently went on www.IMDB.com and it said that the film would be coming out in 2018, this time with Giles Paquet-Brenner directing it, Julian Fellowes is still the writer and there are two actors listed which are Glenn Close and Max Irons. 
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