A star-packed cast gathers for one of Agatha Christie’s best-loved mysteries
★★★½ BBC1, Boxing Day, 9pm
BASED on the Queen of Crime’s bestselling mystery of all time, And Then There Were None gets a handsome showcase and starry cast from the Beeb to ensure this three-parter is a lavish treat for the Christmas holidays.
Agatha Christie’s mystery, recently voted her best by the Crime Writers’ Association, is Christie par excellence with its isolated island setting, a motley band of victims and suspects, and a fiendishy silly denouement.
But this is a beautifully produced mini-series that detracts nicely from the contrived nature of the story with stunning photography, discreet period touches and a terrific score.
For those unfamiliar with the tale, it is 1939 and ten strangers from differing backgrounds are lured to remote Soldier Island off the Devon coast for a get-together by the mysterious Mr and Mrs U N Owen. It’s not long before the guests all realise that none of them has ever met either of the Owens, who are absent from the cut-off island.
Aidan Turner as Lombard
One of the advantages of spreading the story over three episodes is that it unfolds slowly, so that tensions beneath the gentility gradually surface before the mayhem begins.
Topping the cast is Aidan Turner, now burdened with the status of Sex God thanks to that shirtless picture of him in Poldark reprinted 40,000 times by the newspapers. He plays the brooding Irishman Lombard here.
Charles Dance is the retired judge Wargrave, Miranda Richardson the snooty, god-fearing spinster Miss Brent, and Sam Neill plays General MacArthur. The strange atmosphere is helped by the odd servants, played by Noah Taylor and Anna Maxwell Martin.
The rest of the shifty-looking characters are performed by Toby Stephens, Maeve Dermody, Douglas Booth and Burn Gorman.
All of which makes it a rich confection of a show – and perfect for Christmas.
• See also: agathachristie.com
• My recent feature in the Sunday Mirror: The celebrity kidnap that inspired Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express