The BBC has commissioned a TV adaptation of Agatha Christie’s crime drama “The Witness for the Prosecution” from writer Sarah Phelps, who also adapted Christie’s “And Then There Were None” and J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy.”
The two-parter will be directed by Julian Jarrold (“The Crown,” “Appropriate Adult”) and is produced by Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Prods., and co-produced by Acorn Media Enterprises and A+E Studios. Streaming platform Acorn TV will air the show in the U.S. Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Prods also produced “And Then There Were None,” which garnered an audience of more than 8 million for the BBC and aired on Lifetime in the U.S.
“The Witness for the Prosecution” is set in 1920s London. “A murder, brutal and bloodthirsty, has stained the plush carpets of a handsome London townhouse,” the BBC said in a statement. “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.”
Phelps said: “With the long terrible shadow of the Great War falling across the rackety, feral 1920s, ‘The Witness for the Prosecution’ is a compelling story of deceit, desire, murder, money and morality, innocence and guilt, heartbreak and most painful and dangerous of all, love. At the center of this dark and tangled net is the astonishing character of Romaine, a noir heroine for all our times.”
Christie’s original short story has been adapted for the screen before, once as a film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich, and again for television in a production featuring Diana Rigg and Ralph Richardson. A theatrical version also played to packed audiences in London’s West End and on Broadway.
The executive producers for the BBC’s new version are James Prichard (Christie’s great-grandson) and Hilary Strong for Agatha Christie Prods., Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, and Phelps and Matthew Read for the BBC.