Entertainment

ABC Murders writer Sarah Phelps to adapt another Agatha Christie novel

The screenwriter always intended to adapt five of the author's books.

The screenwriter behind last year’s ABC Murders is adapting another Agatha Christie whodunnit for the small screen.

Sarah Phelps will bring standalone novel The Pale Horse (1961) to the television.

It comes after her adaptations of Christie’s works And Then There Were None, The Witness For The Prosecution, Ordeal by Innocence and The ABC Murders, which starred John Malkovich and was broadcast on BBC One over Christmas.

The writer told RadioTimes.com she always intended to adapt five of the author’s books.

She said: “When I was working on And Then There Were None (in 2015), there was a little voice in my head saying that I could write a quintet and cover 50 years of the tumultuous blood-soaked 20th century within the genre of the murder mystery.

“Having now done the 1920s, the beginning and end of the 30s, as well as the 1950s, the next one is going to be set in the 1960s.”

The Pale Horse centres around Mark Easterbrook, who probes the murder of a Catholic priest struck dead in the fog after hearing the confession of a dying woman.

Phelps’ version of the story will follow Death Comes As The End, a Christie tale set in ancient Egypt that is to be adapted by Gwyneth Hughes.

Her Ordeal by Innocence adaptation drew criticism because the killer was changed and some criticised the added backstory for John Malkovich’s Hercule Poirot in The ABC Murders.

The writer said she recognised that criticism could be “brutal” but that she had deliberately made it her mission to subvert viewers’ expectations.

“Agatha Christie plants these little clues in her books and I pick them up and run with them,” she said.

“I’m honouring the secret, subversive Agatha.

“There’s something dangerous about her – and there’s a lot of academic work to be done on the tension in the novels between the book she knew the public wanted to read and the one she wanted to write.

“I always think I’m doing the version of the book she wanted to write.”

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