Agatha Christie,  television

Stylish Television: Ordeal By Innocence

Ordeal by Innocence* is a 2018, BBC adaptation* of one of the best standalone novels by Agatha ChristieAgatha Christie Films: Murder With Mirrors (1985). It had previously been adapted as a part of the Marple series, with Miss Marple added into the mix to solve the crime, but although the new version was truer in that there was no detective, it completely changed the ending and the identity of the killer, garnering mixed reviews for this reason. Now you can watch it again as it has been re-released on BBC IPlayer, so, on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, I dived in.

 

Ordeal by Innocence is one of the darkest of all Agatha Christie novels, and tells the story of the murder of Rachel Argyll, a matriarch of a family of adopted (now grown up ) children who is found murdered in the family home, Sunny Point. Her adopted son Jacko, a man of many problems, is found guilty of the crime, despite claiming that he has an alibi for that night, and dies as the result of a beating in prison. 18 months after the initial crime, a stranger, Arthur Calgary, arrives at the house, claiming to be Jack’s alibi, the stranger who gave him a lift that night. The family are then thrust into chaos and mistrust, is Arthur telling the truth, and, if so, then who in the house killed Rachel that night?

If you are used to the cosiness of Miss Marple and Poirot, then you are in for a shock, as Ordeal by Innocence is dark and brutal from the off. The characters are multi faceted, with each having their own reason for wanting Rachel, who was, quite frankly, a monster, dead, and, with the exception of son-in-law Phillip Durrant, all have the opportunity to have murdered her.The way that Rachel treated her children is shown in flashbacks, she demeans, belittles and undermines their confidence, and it is questionable if she truly loved any of them, it seems to be more about control than anything else.

I won’t spoil the ending as it is well worth a watch, and the cast is superb, with stand outs being Anna Chancellor as Rachel, Bill Nighy as husband Leo, and Alice Eve as the seductive secretary and the next possible Mrs Argyll, Gwenda. Luke Treadaway is also brilliant as the mentally damaged Arthur Calgary, the man who brings the whole house of cards tumbling down.

You can watch Ordeal of Innocence now on BBC iPlayer, and on Amazon Prime.

 

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