Tuesday, 29 December 2015

And Then There Were None (2015)

"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.

The best thing on this Christmas, so far.


  1. I'm afraid I found it excruciatingly tedious, as with a lot of recent BBC stuff (that lamentable Partners in Crime series in the summer, where David Walliams ruined Christie's Tommy & Tuppence books) - this was dragged out over3 hours, sucking the life out of it, very slow, with endless unnecessary flashbacks. I preferred the 60s (TEN LITTLE INDIANS) and 74 vesions (where the young couple survive, after tricking the real murderer) -the 1974 one also had another Bond conection as it featured two Bond villians: Gert Goldfinder Frobe and Adolfo Celi.

    Now what will the beeb do with their new WAR & PEACE starting this weekend? - its a 6 hour version (with sex scenes "Tolstoy forgot to write" according to adapter Andrew Davies), Their 1972 production with Anthony Hopkins ran for 20 episodes.

    1. Each to their own, though I'm with you on the utter horrorshow they made of Tommy and Tuppence. David Walliams is such a prat. I didn't have an issue with its 3 night structure and found it all nicely measured, with the flashbacks as a slow prompt to Vera's real self. I much prefer the darker tone of the original novel rather than the Philip and Vera hero and heroine moments. Didn't the 74 one feature Donald Pleasance too or was that the 60s one? I know he came back for the excruciatingly cheap 89 version too.

      I've high hopes for War and Peace, but then I admire Davies' mischief ever since AVPP days. I just hope the abridgement doesn't destroy the book - Davies' South Riding was hopeless at a ridiculously short 3 hours.

  2. I'm endlessly fascinated with the adaptations of this, mostly because they've been grafted so often onto the Giallo. (And, too, because the Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple movies are, in their own way, proto-Krimis.) The next time you're in the ATTWN mood--and want it coupled with either Italian or German genre excesses--I'd recommend Giuseppe Bennati's THE KILLER RESERVED NINE SEATS, Michele Lupo's THE WEEKEND MURDERS, and the Rialto Krimi THE INDIAN SCARF, directed by genre great Alfred Vohrer and starring, among others, a twitching Klaus Kinski.

    ... and, of course, there's also Bava's FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON.

    1. Thanks for the tips! I'm planning on watching the Rutherford Miss Marple's for the 1st time since childhood, as they've been on TCM these past few days