"Hello Barbara Broccoli, Michael G Wilson. The name's Turner. Aidan Turner. I rather think you should be expecting me..."
Aside from being Mr Poldark's calling card for a screen test for the Bond franchise if/when Daniel Craig hangs up his holster, And Then There Were None also had a few pre-existing Bond connections in its star studded ensemble; Toby Stephens (BBC Radio's James Bond in a series of rather good adaptations, as well as the villain in the lamentable Die Another Day), Charles Dance (they really missed a trick not casting him in the '80s, but he did get to play Ian Fleming in the Goldeneye TV biopic) and Sam Neill (who screen tested for The Living Daylights). Miranda Richardson, Noah Taylor, Anna Maxwell Martin, Douglas Booth, Burn Gorman and Maeve Dermody round out the rest of an impeccable cast.
I recall reading And Then There Were None as a child. Then of course it was a second hand paperback from Earlstown market with the original, now unmentionable title. The classic novel by Agatha Christie has subsequently been adapted countless times, but quite satisfyingly, my grip on it was rather rusty when I settled down to watch this latest BBC adaptation over the past three nights. It really has been the jewel in the crown of the Christmas schedules - though it's worth pointing out the beeb has really overdone the murder mystery this Christmas what with this, Dickensian and Sherlock. And I'm sure some poor bugger will have been bumped off in EastEnders as per usual.
Anyway, this was a sumptuous treat; Ghosted and The Liability director Craig Viveiros' adaptation was sexier, grittier and darker than I can recall, with a wonderful measured pace that allowed the scenario to breathe and the ensemble to shine. The beeb even ensured Turner went shirtless for much of the second episode in an attempt to recapture the Poldark factor, sending Twitter into meltdown as a result.
But for me, the real stars of the production - aside from some great, assured scene stealing from Charles Dance and Toby Stephens - were both Burn Gorman, a strong and sinister character actor capable of eliciting both repulsion and sympathy, and Maeve Dermody, an actress I hadn't been aware of until now.