The Pale Horse writer Sarah Phelps responds to criticism from Agatha Christie fans

Some readers have taken issue with how Phelps changes "loads and loads of stuff"

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 30/01/2020 - Programme Name: The Pale Horse - TX: n/a - Episode: The Pale Horse - Ep 1 (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: ++Embargoed until 00.01 hours Thursday January 30th, 2020++ Mark Easterbrook (RUFUS SEWELL), David Ardingly (HENRY LLOYD-HUGHES) - (C) Mammoth Screen 2019 - Photographer: Ben Blackall

Screenwriter Sarah Phelps has responded to Agatha Christie fans who have criticised her BBC One adaptations.

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Phelps is responsible for the recent reimagining of five famous stories, including And Then There Were None, Ordeal By Innocence and The ABC Murders.

Each has received a generally positive reaction from critics, but some die-hard Christie fans have taken issue with the changes Phelps regularly makes to the source material.

She defended her creative decisions at a launch event for her latest series, The Pale Horse, explaining that she always strives to keep the core themes of the stories intact.

“The whole point is that somebody as famous as Agatha Christie, as widely read, as globally read, who has been read for all this time, you kind of lose sight of the fact that there’s a brain writing behind this. You can get swallowed up by your brand,” Phelps said.

“Yes, of course I’ve taken liberties. Have I changed a load of stuff? Yeah, of course I have, loads and loads and loads of stuff. Otherwise you’d have 30 hours of TV and would you want to watch it? No.

“But, you always go for the beating heart of what she’s getting at. She always throws you little clues, little quantum details and those are the things that I latch onto because that’s what I think the story is about from her point of view.”

In the case of The Pale Horse, Phelps picked up on “tiny little details” about lead character Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell) to go deeper into who he really is as a person.

In the two-parter, a list of names is found in the shoe of a dead woman who may have been linked to three witches living in a nearby village.

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The Pale Horse airs on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday 9th February