Ordeal by Innocence BBC1

Programme Name: Ordeal By Innocence - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Arthur Calgary (LUKE TREADAWAY), Rachel Argyll (ANNA CHANCELLOR), Leo Argyll (BILL NIGHY), Kirsten Lindstrom (MORVEN CHRISTIE) - (C) Mammoth Screen/ACL - Photographer: James Fisher/Joss Barratt

Shadowy figures – Arthur Calgary (Luke Treadaway), Rachel (Anna Chancellor), Leo (Bill Nighy), Kirsten Lindstrom (Morven Christie)

Lavish production for Agatha Christie’s dark mystery 

★★★½

BBC1, Easter Sunday, 1 April, 9pm

AGATHA CHRISTIE was the queen of intimate murder. Relationships that are too close for comfort and disturbing family secrets often lurk in her whodunits.

These elements always add up to killing that is up close and personal. Ordeal by Innocence is a classic of the genre.

This production was originally pulled from the Christmas schedule. An allegation of historic sexual assault against its then star Ed Westwick, which he has denied, caused the Beeb to withdraw the three-parter.

Ordeal by Innocence Mary (Eleanor Tomlinson), Supporting Artists - (C) Mammoth Screen/ACL - Photographer: James Fisher

Mary (Eleanor Tomlinson)

Christian Cook as Mickey

In stepped actor Christian Cooke to reshoot Westwick’s scenes, and here is the result. Cooke plays Mickey, one of the adopted children of dragon mother Rachel Argyll, who is murdered before the opening credits. It’s a key role and he portrays the damaged son well.

The story sweeps us along with little dialogue at first. It’s pacy, beautifully shot and gripping.

In addition to the tense relationships, Ordeal by Innocence has those other classic Christie ingredients – the big country house and homicidal motives galore.

Anna Chancellor as Rachel

Mickey and his step siblings – Mary, Tina, Jack and Hester – have had the misfortune to be raised by adoptive mum Rachel (Anna Chancellor). She is cold and manipulative.

Now grown, the children – plus housekeeper Kirsten – all seem ready to brain Rachel. Delinquent Jack (Anthony Boyle) is fingered for the crime, dying later in prison.

Eighteen months after the crime, a stranger appears at the family estate. Dr Arthur Calgary (Luke Treadaway) claims he gave Jack a lift in his car at the time Rachel was being killed. His assertion that Jack was innocent is not believed, though he still manages to unsettle the family.

Ordeal By Innocence - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Mickey Argyll (CHRISTIAN COOKE), Kirsten Lindstrom (MORVEN CHRISTIE) - (C) Mammoth Screen/ACL - Photographer: Joss Barratt

Mickey Argyll (Christian Cooke), Kirsten (Morven Christie)

As patriarch Leo Argyll prepares to marry his secretary – to the disapproval of Mary (Eleanor Tomlinson in fine bitchy form) – the tension builds brilliantly…

Ordeal by Innocence is a superior Christie adaption. It has a terrific cast and the characters have enough skeletons in various cupboards to keep things rattling along superbly.

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