Agatha Christie TV writer defends dramas from criticism
Sarah Phelps is adapting the murder mystery writer’s book The Pale Horse for BBC One.
The writer behind a string of BBC adaptations of Agatha Christie novels has dismissed complaints that she strayed too far from the much-loved books.
The ABC Murders, starring John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot, and Ordeal By Innocence are among the hit TV dramas penned by Sarah Phelps, from Christie’s novels.
Phelps, 52, dismissed some grumbles that she had not stayed faithful enough to the original stories, telling Radio Times magazine: “I don’t think it’s the real Christie aficionados who do their nuts about my adaptations.
“It’s more that there are certain people who want the past to be white and clean, a past that corresponds to what they feel about the present and the future. And they’re not going to get that from me.”
She added: “When I was doing The ABC Murders, I wanted to set it in 1933, when the British Union of Fascists really began to gain some traction.
“Hercule Poirot is a Belgian refugee, and the whole language of fascism was, ‘We’ve got to reject the tide of aliens, reject the foreigners’.
“You could just feel the country convulse in this great belch of hatred, and if you listen to the language of Brexit or Trump, we’re right back in that now.”
Phelps has also adapted Christie’s The Pale Horse, which will star Rufus Sewell and is expected to air on BBC One next year.
She said: “Some people say that Christie is long on plot and short on character, but there will always be tiny little flurries of description, little buried clues, as to what’s really going on with her characters, and that’s what I try to bring to light.”
The full interview is in this week’s Radio Times.