BBC One orders major adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Witness For The Prosecution

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.Sarah Phelps
Date: 20.06.2016     Last updated: 20.06.2016 at 13.05
This major adaptation for BBC One of Agatha Christie’s classic title The Witness For The Prosecution is adapted by Sarah Phelps (And Then There Were None, The Casual Vacancy, The Crimson Field, Great Expectations), directed by Julian Jarrold (The Crown, The Girl, Appropriate Adult) and co-produced by Mammoth Screen (Poldark, And Then there Were None, Remember Me, Parade’s End) and Agatha Christie Productions (And Then There Were None, Partners In Crime).

Following the success of last year’s three-part thriller And Then There Were None, BBC One have ordered The Witness for the Prosecution, a new two-part adaptation by Sarah Phelps of Agatha Christie’s 1925 short story of the same title. One of Christie’s most celebrated titles, it was later turned into a successful stage play and a much-loved film (1957) directed by Billy Wilder.

1920s London. A murder, brutal and bloodthirsty, has stained the plush carpets of a handsome London townhouse. 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.

CEO of Agatha Christie Limited and executive producer Hilary Strong says: “With And Then There Were None, we reminded viewers just how brilliant Agatha Christie’s plotting is and just how modern her stories could be. We are delighted to be working with Mammoth Screen and Sarah Phelps again to deliver another iconic title for the BBC and our international co-production partners Acorn Media Enterprises and A+E Studios. With The Witness For The Prosecution, Sarah has worked her magic on Christie’s timeless story. Combining Sarah’s brilliance with the excellent and skilful eye of our director, Julian Jarrold, we expect to deliver a show that will thrill both audiences who have enjoyed Christie’s work before and those who are coming to it for the first time.”

Writer Sarah Phelps says: “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 centre of this dark and tangled net is the astonishing character of Romaine, a noir heroine for all our times.”

Mammoth Screen Executive Producer Karen Thrussell adds: “And Then There Were None made a huge impact last year, garnering great reviews and audiences of over 8 million. We’re thrilled to be reunited with Sarah Phelps as she takes on another iconic title, an incendiary courtroom drama that will keep you guessing right to the very end. The source material is so strong, and we hope the end result will be every bit as striking as And Then There Were None.”

Charlotte Moore, Acting Director of BBC Television, says: "Sarah Phelps’ brilliantly original take on The Witness For The Prosecution continues our very special relationship with Agatha Christie on BBC One."

The Witness for the Prosecution is a Mammoth Screen/Agatha Christie Productions drama for BBC One, in association with Acorn Media Enterprises/Acorn TV and A+E Studios. The executive producers are James Prichard and Hilary Strong for Agatha Christie Productions, Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, Sarah Phelps and Matthew Read for the BBC.

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Una Maguire: una@milkpublicity.com

Joanne Sear: joanne@milkpublicity.com