The BBC has delivered a wonderful TV adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Sarah Phelps writes and Craig Viveiros directs this three-part thriller which features an impressive line-up of actors (Charles Dance, Sam Neill, Toby Stephens and Aidan Turner to name but a few). Christie was the master of the mystery novel and And Then There Were None is her most successful and influential novel. Nearly every single-location mystery you’ve seen or read has taken its cue from this iconic tale.
Set in 1939, And Then There Were None sees ten strangers invited to a small island off the Cornish coast following an invitation by the mysterious Mr and Mrs Owen. They appear to have nothing in common though it soon transpires that they all hold a deep, dark secret. To make matters worse, they’re slowly killed-off one by one.
A mastery in tension across its three, one hour episodes, And Then There Were None grabs the viewer and pulls them into the drama. The performances might play broad at times but there’s fun to be had as the body count rises and the characters begin to turn on themselves. It’s not easy to take the world’s biggest selling fiction book of all time and make it feel fresh three quarters of a century after it was first published, but they manage to do it here.
This is a faithful adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel and it’s not afraid to shy away from the darker aspects of the source material. This might be set in 1939, but it doesn’t feel like it belongs to that era. The characters may be likeable on a surface level, but they have all done bad deeds in their past.
A story like And Then There Were None lives and dies by the ending. It’s best if you don’t look into this one before watching, because ignorance is bliss. Rest assured it’s a satisfying ending that suits the tone of the tale and the original source material. This is a hugely satisfying whodunnit.
The DVD of And Then There Were None comes with a behind-the-scenes documentary and a photo gallery.