When is Agatha and The Curse of Ishtar on TV? What is it about? Is it a true story?

Everything you need to know about the Channel 5 drama...

Jonah Hauer King as 'Max' & Lyndsey Marshal as 'Agatha' in the ancient tomb

Fans of crime drama will no doubt have been devastated to find out there will be no new BBC Agatha Christie adaptation ready in time for Christmas this year.

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But thankfully there is another way to get your Agatha fix over the festive period, with a new Channel 5 drama from husband and wife team Tom and Emily Dalton focusing on a time in the writer’s own life.

Here’s everything you need to know about Agatha and The Curse of Ishtar…

When is Agatha and The Curse of Ishtar on TV?

The two-hour episode will air at 9pm on Sunday 15th December on Channel 5. 

What is it about?

The show sees Agatha travel to Iraq for an architectural dig as she looks to escape the bad memories of her divorce. While there, she finds herself not only untangling a series of murders but also meeting a handsome and charming stranger who, despite a 14 year age gap, is desperate to win her affections.

Star Jonah Hauer-King told RadioTimes.com, “I’d say it’s kind of a unique story because we are looking at a period of history that actually happened.

“We’re telling a story about Agatha and how she met her second husband, and I think it’s quite an original premise because it reimagines this time within the context of her writings, so it’s in the context of a whodunnit which I thought was quite a unique way of telling a story.”

Who is in the cast?

Lyndsey Marshal as 'Agatha' & Jonah Hauer King as 'Max'
Lyndsey Marshal as Agatha & Jonah Hauer-King as Max

The cast is headlined by Lynsey Marshall (Rome), who will play the legendary mystery writer and the aforementioned Hauer-King (World on Fire) who plays her second husband Max Mallowan. The cast also includes Stanley Townsend (Florence Foster Jenkins), Jack Deam (Father Brown) and Katherine Kingsley (Black Mirror).

Speaking about playing a real person from history, Hauer-King said, “It’s kind of a challenge but it provides quite a good blueprint, because there’s a certain amount of information you could find out.

“There wasn’t a huge amount of information about Max when he was in his early 20s which is when I was playing him, but certainly there was a foundation there, which was great

“It was quite a nice to play a real-life person but then to really bring our own take on it and to use a lot of what Tom, the writer brought to it as well and try and bring a three-dimensional contemporary character to life.”

Is Agatha and The Curse of Ishtar based on real life? 

Well, yes – up to a point. Hauer-King said that the cast and the crew had been describing the program as ‘faction’ – basically that it is a mixture of fact and fiction.

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Will it have the feel of an Agatha Christie story?

If Hauer-King’s words are anything to go by, then yes. The actor says, “It also has that sense of adventure and whodunnit and all of those eccentric and idiosyncratic characters that you always find in Agatha Christie stories so…it should be good for people who are both fans of Agatha Christie novels and people who aren’t as well.”