Is there an Agatha Christie drama on the BBC this Christmas?

There's good news and bad news...

The ABC Murders John Malkovich

In recent years an annual Agatha Christie miniseries has become part of the BBC Christmas TV furniture, with Sarah Phelps having delivered an adaptation in each of the last four years (although Ordeal by Innocence was delayed till Easter due to reshoots).

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And Then There Were None, The Witness for the Prosecution and The ABC Murders have been among the Christie classics to appear on our screens over the festive period, with Bill Nighy, Toby Jones and John Malkovich all having been attracted to star roles.

Is there an Agatha Christie drama on BBC One for Christmas 2019?

Well, there’s bad news and good news.

The bad news is that unfortunately there won’t be an Agatha Christie ready in time for Christmas this year. The good news is that not one, but two adaptations are currently in the works

The first of these sees Sarah Phelps once again tackle the legendary crime writer’s work, this time adapting her 1961 novel The Pale Horse, which concerns a man whose name appears on a mysterious list found in the shoe of a recently deceased women.

Although we don’t have an exact date for when The Pale Horse will air, it’s expected to be broadcast at some point in 2020 and will star Rufus Sewell (Victoria) and Kaya Scodelario (Skins).

The second is a slightly different beast, both in terms of content and the team involved. Rather than Phelps, this adaptation will come from Vanity Fair screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes, and it will focus on one of the more unusual works in the Christie canon – Death Comes as the End.

While most of Christie’s novels had a contemporaneous setting, this one is set in Ancient Egypt, and a BBC source has claimed it “will be a very different proposition from the recent BBC Agatha Christie adaptations.”

This all sounds very intriguing, but sadly at this point we’re no clearer as to when we can expect to see the miniseries, for which casting has not yet been announced.

What can I watch this Christmas instead?

poirot

If the thought of a Christmas without any Agatha Christie is too much to bear, then you’ll be glad to hear there are a couple of possible alternatives.

One of Channel 5’s biggest draws over the festive period is a drama called Agatha Christie and the Curse of Ishtar.  This show is not based on any of Christie’s novels, but stars Lyndsey Marshal (Rome) as the writer as she looks towards a new career writing romantic fiction. World on Fire’s Jonah Hauer-King also stars.

If you want something a little more vintage then you could also be in luck – years’ worth of old episodes of Poirot and Marple are included with a subscription to new streaming service Britbox. A subscription to the service costs £5.99 a month, while new users can also make the most of a 30 day free trial – which could be perfect for the month of December.

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And if you’d rather something on the big screen then Knives Out, the new film from Star Wars:The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, which stars Daniel Craig as a maverick detective, could be perfect. A murder mystery, the film cites Agatha Christie as a key influence and is winning rave reviews from critics.