I had rather an up and down Easter, with glorious sunshine to start my weekend, and rain upon rain to end it. But despite all this, it was rather wonderful, as with Magpie Murders on Saturday night on BBC1, and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? starting for three nights on ITV I had some classic modern television to keep me warm and occupied.
Why Didn’t You Ask Evans? is one of Agatha Christie’s stand alone novels, not featuring Marple, Poirot or any of her other, lesser known detectives. It has been dramatised as part of the Marple series in 2009, with Miss Marple shoehorned into the episode (rather successfully I thought) but now Hugh Laurie has brought a more faithful adaptation to the screen in this three part series that was first shown on Britbox last year.
Why didn’t they ask Evans concerns the last words of a dying man, Alan Carstairs, and the quest to find out what he actually meant by them. The hero and heroine are amongst Christie’s best, the feisty Lady Frances, aka Frankie, and her childhood friend, Vicar’s son, golf caddy and prospective used car salesman Bobby Jones. It was Bobby who heard the man’s screams and found him dying, finding a photograph of a beautiful blonde woman in his pocket whilst looking for some form of identification before he was relieved by the mysterious Roger Bassington Ffrench who just happened to appear at the scene. When a completely different woman turns up at the inquest and is identified as the woman in the photograph, Bobby knows that something is wrong, and with the suspicious death of his friend Dr Jones, Bobby realises that he is in danger. Lady Frances, however, has a plan to get close to Roger Bassington Ffrench to find out what he knows, and whether he is involved in the growing number of murders, and murder attempts.
Why Didn’t they ask Evans is perfect. It is wonderfully cast, with even the smaller roles being star studded – Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent as Frankie’s parents being a case in point. Will Poulter is perfect as Bobby Jones, he has the look of a 1930’s, rugged matinee star, and totally underplays the role in a way that makes him charming and natural. He has wonderful chemistry with the brilliantly brittle Lucy Boynton as Frankie, gorgeous, clever and resourceful, one of Agatha’s most winning heroines brought perfectly to life.
The three parter is super stylish. We have the fabulous wardrobe of Frankie – partly stolen from Katherine Hepburn, with wide leg trousers and waistcoats and mannish ties, to beautiful bias cut gowns and floaty floral tea dresses. The male characters are equally smart dressers, with Bobby making a dashing chaffeur, and Roger Bassington Ffrench eminently caddish throughout. There are also the most incredible cars, paintwork gleaming throughout, and the incredible scenery, particularly in those Welsh scenes.
Why Didn’t They Ask Evans is just a joy from start to finish. Definitely worth a watch on catch up if you missed it this Easter.