Considered by many to be Christie’s magnum opus, And Then There Were None has sold over 100 million copies worldwide, making it the most popular mystery novel ever.
Ten strangers, each with a skeleton or two in the closet, are drawn to a remote island under false pretences. As the weather turns and the group is cut off from civilisation, the bloodbath begins. One by one they fall in accordance with the lines of a sinister nursery rhyme.
“…and then there were none.”
But who’s who in this whodunnit? We’ve investigated so you can start eyeing up the prime suspects right away.
Aidan Turner as Philip Lombard
An Irish mercenary who shows no remorse for the crimes of his past. This soldier of fortune arrives on the island pistol in hand, but in reality it’s he who is the loaded gun.
Aidan Turner, who plays Philip, describes him as “totally shady. He’s kind of amoral as well and has a complete disregard for humanity.” Sounds like quite the charmer.
You may recognise Aidan Turner as the hero of BBC1’s Cornish scything sensation Poldark or as the brooding vampire John Mitchell from supernatural drama Being Human.
Miranda Richardson as Emily Brent
“She stars out as this monstrous, bible reading, God fearing, knitting person and as time goes on you find out more about her” says Miranda Richardson of her on-screen persona Emily Brent.
Lombard might be an open book, but Brent is bound by threads of repression that slowly unravel as she draws out the yarn of her life story. Her seemingly virtuous calling, caring for unmarried women who are ‘in trouble’, disguises a more unsightly character beneath the facade.
Most of us know Miranda Richardson best as the infamous Queenie of Blackadder fame, but she’s had a wide-ranging and illustrious career. From Lady Mary Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow to Queen Mab in Merlin, Miranda is renowned for bringing big personalities to life with sinister charm.
Sam Neill as General MacArthur
Yet another character whose ties with war and death has led them down a dark path. General MacArthur is a retired veteran of World War One whose familiarity with the madness of murder lends him a more resigned perspective to the island slaughter.
“I always think that most Agatha Christie murderers have done things against their better nature,” says Sam Neill who plays MacArthur on screen. Whether this better nature will be enough to save his soul (and life) remains to be seen.
Neill’s extensive filmography is intimidating to say the least. His most noteworthy roles include the honourable Dr Alan Grant in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park and more recently Cardinal Wolsey in the television series The Tudors.
Charles Dance as Justice Wargrave
When Mother Nature meted out the milk of human kindness she must have forgotten to visit Justice Wargrave. Known as “The Hanging Judge”, this former man of the law personally ensured that the gallows were never short of necks.
His will is iron, and he would no doubt say his moral compass is beyond reproach, but he’s also a slippery fish. According to Charles Dance, the actor charged with bringing Walgrave to life, “you never know quite what he’s up to. “There’s a mystery to all of the characters when they arrive, but even more so in the case of Wargrave. You never know whether what he’s saying is true or not.”
Dance possesses one of the most authoritative (and mildly terrifying) countenances on TV. When he speaks, all are enthralled. His seemingly endless list of credits include the insidious Tywin Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones and Mr Tulkinghorn in the BBC’s Bleak House.
Maeve Dermody as Vera Claythorne
The say that love turns us all into monsters, and none know this better than Vera Claythorne, a former governess whose romantic entanglement ended in bloody disaster.
Her history is chequered, but there’s also lot in her character to admire. Australian actress Maeve Dermody clearly relished the chance to play this multi-dimensional survivor. “She’s really strong,” Dermody explains. “What has happened in the past would destroy most people but she is there carrying on.”
Maeve is fairly new to British screens but you might have seen her before in the 2007 horror film Black Water.
Toby Stephens as Dr Edward Armstrong
Solace for sorrow is often found at the bottom of a glass, a fact to which Edward is no stranger. This doctor-turned-drunk is another mental casualty of The Great War whose life has continued to spiral downwards.
We shouldn’t, however, judge too harshly according to actor Toby Stephens. “He’s just one of those people you meet initially and think he’s a horrible man,” explains Stephens. “He’s sort of priggish, arrogant, smug, slightly conceited and then you realise actually he’s this tragic character that because of his past has been ruined.”
Toby Stephens is a stage and screen actor who has won praise for his sterling performance as Coriolanus at the Royal Shakespeare Company, though most will more likely recognise him as Gustav Graves in the James Bond film Die Another Day.
Noah Taylor as Rogers
Butlers don’t tend to fare well in crime fiction, either as the victims or the villains, so be sure to keep a keen eye on Rogers. Courteous and respectful in public whilst plotting his own machinations in the background, this man’s duplicity makes him a less-than-perfect caretaker.
He’s a nasty piece of work according to the actor behind the bow tie, Noah Taylor, who describes his character as “frustrated and bitter with his lot in life” much to the detriment of his “poor long-suffering wife Ethel.”
Taylor’s is a face known on both sides of the Atlantic, but Americans and Brits alike will likely remember him as the man who lopped off Jamie Lannister’s right hand in Game of Thrones.
Said ‘long suffering wife’ is Ethel the housekeeper. Years of living under her husband’s yoke have reduced her to a nervous husk who shies away from daylight. “She’s cowed by life, dedicated to her job but very scared of her husband” explains Anna Maxwell Martin who plays Ethel.
It’s not just her husband she has to contend with, it’s her conscience, as the Rogers’ sins go beyond the daily domestic torture of their existence.
Last year Maxwell Martin was busy in a production of King Lear in which she played the torturer rather than the tortured by assuming the role of Regan. Her previous credits include the film Philomena, Alan Partridge, and Midsomer Murders.
Douglas Booth as Anthony Marston
What most interests actor Douglas Booth about his character is that “he is truly unaware of his secret, of his darker side because he is just so thoughtless, so uncaring and self-centred”. If he were real, we’d take great pleasure in not bringing him home to meet our mum.
Marston exists on the cusp of what will eventually become an obnoxious form of youth culture but sadly he’s somewhat ahead of the curve. Maybe we won’t feel quite so bad if and when he eventually meets the chopping block.
Douglas Booth has previously worked with the scriptwriter of And Then There Were None, Sara Phelps, on her adaptation of Great Expectations, and jumped at the chance to do so again. In recent years he’s starred in the sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending as well as the biblical film Noah, alongside Russell Crowe.
And Then There Were None will air on BBC1 at 9pm on Boxing Day