Agatha Christie: Nine recent adaptations of the Queen of Crime’s novels to watch

Almost a century since her work was first adapted for film, the appetite for Agatha Christie's murder mysteries shows no sign of abating. Here are the best recent Christies on TV and film.

By Lizzie Larkum Published: 26 May 2022 - 3.46pm
BritBox Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

It’s no surprise that Agatha Christie is the best selling fiction writer of all time and that her books are ripe for TV and film adaptation.

Whether they’re set in an exotic location like Egypt or in a quiet country village, Christie’s timeless tales of greed, love and murder still provide thrilling escapism - and a gripping finale as the killer - or killers - are revealed.

Since the publication of her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920, demand for her quintessentially English mysteries has always been high. In 1928 the first film adaptation of a Christie story, The Passing of Mr Quin, was released and they’ve kept coming ever since.

In 2017, Kenneth Branagh directed a start-studded adaptation of Christie favourite Murder on the Orient Express, and followed it up with this year's Death on the Nile. Hugh Laurie, meanwhile, picked a lesser-known Christie title - Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? - off the shelf to adapt and direct an entertaining mini-series for BritBox.

In total, Christie - who died in 1976 aged 85 - wrote 66 novels and 14 short stories, many of which have found their way onto screens big and small. We take a look at the pick of the recent crop of Agatha Christie adaptations.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (2022)

Based on the 1934 novel of the same name, this charming adaptation was written and directed by actor Hugh Laurie who also plays a minor role.

The mystery begins with the death of a man whose enigmatic dying words, “Why Didn’t they ask Evans?”, set in motion a twisty tale of murder and subterfuge. Honourable but pennyless vicar’s son Bobby Jones and the feisty Lady Frances become tangled up in the case and decide to unravel the mystery for themselves.  

The three-part drama stars Will Poulter and Lucy Boyton and includes cameos by Emma Thompson, Jim Broadbent and an aptly chosen part for Paul Whitehouse as the landlord of the Angler’s Arms. 

Stream Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? now on BritBox

Death on the Nile (2022)

A sumptuous second Agatha Christie adaptation from Kenneth Branagh who once again dons the fabulous moustache to play the Belgian detective.

Joining a honeymooning couple and their entourage on a cruise down the Nile, Poirot soon has to solve a handful of murders and unravel a tale of deception and greed.

Starring Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, Russell Brand, Sophie Okonedo, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

Watch Death on the Nile on the BT Player

The Pale Horse (2020)

Screenwriter Sarah Phelps' fifth and final Christie adaptation for the BBC has a very sinister air, set between 1960s swinging London and the creepy country village of Much Deeping, a place with more than a hint of The Wicker Man about it.

Rufus Sewell plays Mark Easterbrook, a grieving husband who finds himself unhappily married to Hermia, a former friend of his first wife.

Easterbrook’s world is turned upside down for a second time when his name appears on a list found on a murdered woman. The other names on the list are turning up dead - could Easterbrook be next? And could this be the supernatural work of witches? Zachariah Osbourne, played by an unrecognisable Bertie Carvel, certainly thinks so, but this is Agatha Christie and all is not always as it seems.

Also stars Kay Scodelario and Claire Skinner.

The Pale Horse is available to buy on Prime Video

ABC Murders (2018)

Hollywood A-lister John Malkovich stars as an aging Hercule Poirot, a once adored detective now out of favour with the police and general public.

Sarah Phelps’ screenplay and Malkovich's presence bring a gravitas to the role and he presents a more brooding character than other portrayals of the Belgian sleuth.

The action takes place in 1933, when Poirot receives a letter, signed off with the letters ABC, detailing a murder that is about to take place. At first the police think it’s an April Fool's joke, then suspect Poirot knows more than he’s letting on. Meanwhile we see an awkward travelling salesman by the name of Alexander Bonaparte Cust visiting all the victims prior to their murders.

With the police proving unhelpful, it’s down to Poirot to solve the murders and regain his standing in an unforgiving and mistrusting pre-war Britain.

Starring John Malkovich, Rupert Grint, Shirley Henderson and Andrew Buchan.

The ABC Murders is available to buy on Prime Video

BritBox Agatha Christie Film Collection

Six classic Agatha Christie movies from the 70s and 80s are now available to watch on BritBox.

Endless Night (1972)
Hayley Mills and Hywel Bennett star as newlyweds who build their dream home on cursed land in a rare horror-themed Christie adaptation.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Albert Finney, above, dons Poirot's moustache in this much-loved movie starring Laurel Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, John Gielgud and Sean Connery.

And Then There Were None (1974)
Ten strangers, invited to a hotel in the desert by the mysterious UN Owen, begin to die one at a time. Stars Charles Aznavour and Orson Welles.

Death on the Nile (1978)
Peter Ustinov heads an all-star cast featuring David Niven, Maggie Smith, Bette Davis and Mia Farrow in this Egyptian murder mystery.

The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
007 veteran Guy Hamilton directs this Marple mystery starring Angela Lansbury as the spinster sleuth alongside Liz Taylor and Rock Hudson. 

Evil Under the Sun (1982)
Ustinov returns as Poirot for another star-studded murder investigation featuring James Mason, Roddy McDowall, Colin Blakely and Diana Rigg. 

Ordeal by Innocence (2018)

When Rachel Argyll is bludgeoned to death, her adopted son Jack is arrested after his fingerprints are found on the murder weapon. However, he dies in custody before the case can be brought to trial.

Ordeal by Innocence takes place 18 months after the murder. Widower Leo Argyll, played by Bill Nighy, is set to marry his secretary Gwenda Vaughan. His four surviving adopted children gather to prepare for the wedding just as scientist Arthur Calgary returns from the Arctic with information to prove Jack’s innocence.

But if he’s innocent, who is Rachel Argyll’s killer?

Sarah Phelps is once again is behind this thrilling production which stars Bill Nighy, Matthew Goode, Anna Chancellor, Morven Christie, Alice Eve and Eleanor Tomlinson.

Ordeal by Innocence is available to buy on Prime Video

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Kenneth Branagh directed and starred as Hercule Poirot in his first movie adaptation of a Christie story. 

On the way back to London on the famous Orient Express, Poirot’s skills of deduction are put to the test when a passenger is murdered. When the train journey is halted by an avalanche, the killer is trapped but Poirot’s little grey cells go into overdrive when he discovers that everybody on the train appears to have a motive. 

Starring Kenneth Branagh Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Olivia Colman and Willem Dafoe.

Watch Murder on the Orient Express in the BT Player

The Crooked House (2007)

A lavish film adaptation of one of Agatha Christie's personal favourites. The screenplay was written by Julian Fellowes who, as the creator of Downton Abbey, knows a thing or two about stately home dramas.

The story begins when a former diplomat-turned-private detective is hired by a former girlfriend to investigate the brutal murder of her grandfather. But dark family secrets are revealed with more than one motive being exposed and it’s a race against time to catch the killer. 

Starring Gillian Anderson, Glenn Close, Christina Hendricks and Terrence Stamp.

The Crooked House is available to buy on Prime Video

Witness for the Prosecution (2016)

This multi-layered adaptation by screenwriter Sarah Phelps once again brings her trademark sense of dread and foreboding to a murder mystery.

When a wealthy woman is brutally murdered, all fingers point to her young companion, Leonard, who is set to inherit her fortune. His lawyer, convinced of his innocence, must get Leonard’s girlfriend to come forward with his alibi, but nothing is simple in this twisted tale of greed and treachery.

Starring Toby Jones, Kim Catrall and Andrea Risebourough.

Witness for the Prosecution in available to buy on Prime Video

And Then There Were None (2015)

A claustrophobic atmosphere surrounds this adaptation, the first by screenwriter Sarah Phelps. Ten apparent strangers are invited to a remote island off the Devonshire coast. Cut off from the mainland due to bad weather, the guests start being knocked off one by one. They all have a murky past but who amongst them is the murderer and what is their motive? 

Starring Aidan Turner, Charles Dance and Miranda Richardson.

And Then There Were None is available to buy on Prime Video

Other Agatha Christie adaptations to look out for:

Partners in Crime - Series 1

David Walliams and Jessica Raine play Tommy and Tuppence,  a suburban couple whose desire for adventure leads them into trouble again and again.

Partners in Crime is available to buy on Prime Video

Poirot

David Suchet portrayed the Belgian detective for 24 years between 1989 and 2013 in this ITV series which, by the time the final episode aired, had adapted every novel or short story that featured Poirot for the small screen.

All 70 episodes of Poirot are available on BritBox.

Marple

Geraldine McEwan and then Julia McKenzie played the famous elderly sleuth Miss Marple in 23 feature-length episodes for ITV between 2004 and 2013, and there's a star-studded line-up in every one.

Every episode of Marple is now available on BritBox.

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