Ordeal by Innocence producers explain decision to reshoot BBC drama following Ed Westwick allegations

Director Sandra Goldbacher said recasting the role was the only way to save "hundreds and hundreds of people's work", adding that she was encouraged after seeing Ridley Scott perform a similar feat with All the Money in the World

Luke Treadaway, Anna Chancellor, Bill Nighy and Morven Christie in Ordeal by Innocence (BBC)

The producers of BBC drama Ordeal by Innocence have explained the decision to recast and reshoot the Agatha Christie adaptation following sexual assault allegations made against original actor Ed Westwick.

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Ordeal by Innocence was dropped from the BBC Christmas schedules after allegations of sexual assault were made against actor Westwick in November last year. Westwick strenuously denies the allegations.

Producers Mammoth Screen decided to reshoot parts of the series with another actor, 30-year-old English star Christian Cooke. Now director Sandra Goldbacher and producer Damien Timmer have explained in a new interview with Radio Times why the decision was made.

“Hundreds and hundreds of people’s work would have just gone,” director Goldbacher says in the new issue of Radio Times, “or been indefinitely delayed. Which would have been devastating for everyone.”

Goldbacher adds that she was encouraged by the example of director Ridley Scott, who recast and reshot Hollywood movie All the Money in the World with Christopher Plummer following allegations made against original star Kevin Spacey.

“I felt encouraged by Ridley Scott having done it. It was like a sort of talisman for us all: he’s done it, so we can do it,” she said.

A trailer for the re-worked BBC series was recently released, including Cooke as character Mickey Argyll.

Goldbacher and producer Damian Timmer explain in the new issue how they were able to bring the original cast and locations back for the re-shoots, despite the late notice and time constraints.

While original filming took place in the summer, the re-shoots were conducted in winter. As a consequence, Timmer explains, “the technical challenges were reversed. This time, we had the snow, not the sun.”

Westwick's replacement, Christian Cooke can be seen alongside Morven Christie (as Kirsten Lindstrom), Crystal Clarke (Tina Argyll), Ella Purnell (Hester Argyll) and Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson (Mary Durrant)
Ed Westwick’s replacement Christian Cooke pictured alongside Morven Christie (as Kirsten Lindstrom), Crystal Clarke (Tina Argyll), Ella Purnell (Hester Argyll) and Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson (Mary Durrant)

Both Ordeal by Innocence and All the Money in the World were re-cast in order for the production to go ahead. However, other projects including Netflix biopic Gore starring Spacey were shelved.

Timmer says in the interview that the experience of Ordeal by Innocence shows that the television and film industry is able to adapt to meet specific challenges.

“Every era throws up new challenges that impact on filming. You might always have shot a series in a location that suddenly becomes a terrorist zone. The industry adapts and finds ways of working around whatever the issues is at the time.”

Ordeal by Innocence will now be shown on BBC1 this Easter.

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Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times, on sale now