Whodunnit? The BBC! For the Beeb has trumped queen of crime Agatha Christie for dastardly deeds – by changing the identity of the killer in a new dramatisation of one of her murder mysteries.
Six million viewers are expected to tune in to watch Ordeal By Innocence, but anyone who has read Christie’s 1958 book will find that the show is far from a faithful retelling of the story.
The decision of writer Sarah Phelps to so dramatically change the plot for television has infuriated fans, who say it’s a twist too far.
MARY DURRANT: Rachel’s eldest daughter, played by Eleanor Tomlinson. Guilty? Mary, who was in the house at the time of the murder, seemed remarkably calm when Rachel’s body was discovered. We know Rachel strongly disapproved of Mary’s marriage to Philip. Not Guilty? Mary’s tender care of husband Philip, disabled in a car crash, are not the actions of a cold-blooded killer
Leo Argyll: Played by Bill Nighy, widower of victim Rachel (Anna Chancellor). Guilty? Leo is preparing to marry his mistress Gwenda and it is possible that he bumped off his wife so he could start a new life with a much younger woman. Not Guilty? Could a doting family man like Leo, pictured with Rachel really plan the murder of his own wife?
Christie biographer Laura Thompson said: ‘Changing the identity of the murderer, however good for publicity, is a bit much.
‘Agatha was shrewder than she is often given credit for and there’s a lot of sophistication and subtlety in the original solution.
‘She took this book particularly seriously because the subject matter meant a great deal to her.
‘This new version is having it both ways, really: creating the story that the writer wants to tell, but attaching Agatha’s box-office name to it.’
Fans have also taken to Twitter to protest. One wrote: ‘Why doesn’t she [Phelps] write her own books if she thinks she can do better than someone who’s sold millions of books.’
SUSPECTED: Housekeeper Kirsten Lindstrom played by Morven Christie (left). PHILIP DURRANT: Mary’s husband played by Matthew Goode (right). Guilty? Philip may be a former flying hero but his bullying of his wife reveals a cruel streak. Not Guilty: His disability would inhibit his ability to flee the scene of a crime. Seems determined to find out what happened to Rachel
Another fan tweeted: ‘Apparently they mess with the end. Again! Why? Agatha knew best.’
And one grumbled: ‘It will ruin the whole point.’
The three-part adaptation stars Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor and Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson.
In Dame Agatha’s 1958 novel Rachel Argyle, a wealthy but overbearing mother of five adopted children, is murdered by the family housekeeper, Kirsten Lindstrom.
Phelps’s decision to change the identity of the killer means she has had to rewrite some of the book’s characters and subplots.
She has even changed the family name from Argyle to Argyll.
HESTER ARGYLL: Rachel’s adopted daughter, played by Ella Purnell (pictured left). Guilty? Had blood on her bedclothes at the time of the murder. She and Rachel may have a falling-out on Christmas Eve, which is when the crime was committed. Not guilty? We suspect the blood stains are a red herring. TINA ARGYLL: Rachel’s adopted daughter, played by Crystal Clarke (right)
MICHAEL ‘Mickey’ Argyll: played by Christian Cooke. Guilty? Mickey, who served in Korea before settling in London, seems reluctant to return home. Not Guilty? Despite brooding good looks, he is fragile and appears to lack the steely determination required of a killer.
But in pre-screening interviews she was defiant, saying: ‘To the horror of Agatha Christie devotees I have changed the ending.
‘I don’t give a b******s about people saying it has to be pure.’
It’s not unusual for adaptations to alter the original source material, but it’s rare for one to undertake such a drastic reinvention.
Christie expert Dr Jamie Bernthal-Hooker said the changes could bring the original work to a whole new audience.
He added: ‘It’s a new way of interpreting the stories, which will encourage a lot of people who’ve never read Agatha Christie to have a look at her books.
‘These adaptations recognise her as the mother of modern psychological crime fiction.’
Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the rewrite, there is still a murder to solve – so if the housekeeper didn’t do it, who did?
Here we present our spoiler-free guide to the names who are surely in the frame…
GWENDA VAUGHAN: Leo’s former mistress and now his bride-to-be, played by Alice Eve
Source : dailymail