The BBC’s latest Agatha Christie adaptation Ordeal By Innocence concluded with a different ending to that of the original book – and viewers were divided over the decision.
*Spoilers for Ordeal By Innocence follow*
The final episode of screenwriter Sarah Phelps’ Ordeal by Innocence takes a dramatic turn away from Christie’s 1958 novel and gives us a different killer entirely. It’s not housekeeper Kirsten Lindstrom who walloped Rachel over the head and then murdered the meddling Philip, as in the book; instead it’s “daddy” Leo Argyll who did the deed.
The decision provoked a strong reaction from Agatha Christie traditionalists and fans of the new series, who were either blissfully unaware of the difference until it was pointed out to them on social media, or just as happy to see a 60-year-old story get a “brave and bold” update and provide a last minute surprise.
A RadioTimes.com poll of over 900 readers saw 52% of users vote that Phelps made the right call in changing the ending, while 48% were against it.
Check out the arguments on both sides of the debate below.
Viewers against the ending change
Some Agatha Christie fans were simply outraged at the idea that a modern screenwriter would dare change a plot created by the Queen of Crime, while others felt simply “if it ain’t broke”…
“Was Dame Agatha Christie’s writing just not good enough for you?” Twitter user @AliBailey wrote, “changing the murderer and the whole ending of Ordeal by Innocence? Shame on you.”
“Just finished Ordeal By Innocence,” @LangoMango said. “The ending bears no resemblance to the book and it a bit of a mess.”
— Ali (@alibailey) April 15, 2018
So some arrogant BBC writer thought they could do better than Agatha Christie? Why adapt something if you’re going to change everything, even the killer?! Just write something new instead ? #OrdealByInnocence
— Dave Johnson (@Doctor_Dave80) April 15, 2018
Conflicted by #OrdealByInnocence. enjoyed it but annoyed by change of ending. Original Christie ending much better. If if ain't broke…
— Ruth Salsbury (@beancounterruth) April 15, 2018
Looking forward to the BBC's next adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express in which it turns out none of them did it. #OrdealByInnocence
— Laura Slattery (@LauraSlattery) April 15, 2018
So the great Agatha Christie’s writing wasn’t good enough for you BBC you had to throw your own pitiful ending to a story that was already good on its own ?#OrdealByInnocence
— JC ?? (@jayceee30) April 15, 2018
#OrdealByInnocence I literally guessed that entire ending wtf. Was expecting more of a plot twist than that ?
— Liv Rook (@LivRook) April 15, 2018
Viewers for the ending change
Meanwhile, some viewers who enjoyed the ending weren’t aware of its divergence from Christie’s novel, while others saw the change as a fitting re-interpretation.
“I loved Ordeal By Innocence,” Emily Randall wrote on Twitter, “don’t mind in the least they’ve changed the ending. That’s storytelling: updating & re-interpreting. I’ve often though I’d love to see a Shakespeare season where all the endings are changed and the audience don’t know what they’re in for.”
Viewer Lynn Shirley commented on the RadioTimes.com Facebook page: “I’ve not read the book so not bothered in the slightest if it has a different ending, which I loved. It was rivetting viewing and clever stuff. I loved the music too which added to the atmosphere! I’m sure there will be plenty of us looking forward to what Sarah Phelps comes up with next. Congratulations to all concerned.”
I loved #OrdealByInnocence – don’t mind in the least that they’ve changed the ending. That’s storytelling: updating & re-interpreting. I’ve often thought I’d love to see a Shakespeare season where all the endings are changed and the audience don’t know what they’re in for.
— Emily Randall (@millyrandall85) April 15, 2018
Well that was quite an ending to #OrdealByInnocence Loved it.
— Alison Ivens (@aliivens) April 15, 2018
Of course I knew the ending of #OrdealByInnocence was not going to be the same as the #AgathaChristie book but I think it was brave and bold move by @PhelpsieSarah. Tips hat, takes hat off to you. pic.twitter.com/keOGequUj8
— Nick Jury (@TheRealNickJury) April 15, 2018
— Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon (@BelindaBG) April 15, 2018
I think it was absolutely a good choice to change the ending from the book (never read it but I have just googled it). If it's a murder mystery, you want it to be a mystery for everyone. What's the fun in it if everybody all ready knows? #OrdealByInnocence
— It's Caris✌ (@ItsCarisHere) April 15, 2018
One thing’s for sure – it got people talking.