The Witness for the Prosecution, the classic Agatha Christie suspense thriller, is but one published work of fiction that is being adapted for the small screen.
Works by three renowned authors from the early-to-mid 20th century, as well as a title from a celebrated contemporary writer, are being made into films and miniseries. Which ones will you be looking forward to watching?
Decline and Fall
Evelyn Waugh’s Decline And Fall, one of the greatest comic novels of all time, is being adapted for television for the first time.
Starring in the three-part comedy satire for BBC Two are Jack Whitehall (Bad Education, Fresh Meat), David Suchet (Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Great Expectations), Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives, Telenovela), and Douglas Hodge (Penny Dreadful, Red Cap).
Set in the 1920s, Decline And Fall finds Paul Pennyfeather (Whitehall), a divinity student at Oxford University, wrongly expelled for indecent exposure after having been pranked by The Bollinger Club. Although out on his bum from uni, Pennyfeather lands on his feet when he’s hired for a teaching position at Llanabba, an obscure public school in Wales, where he works under the headmaster, Dr Fagan (Suchet), and alongside fellow teacher Grimes (Hodge).
It is here that he also meets the beautiful South American woman, the Honourable Mrs Margot Beste-Chetwynde (Longoria), who is the mother of one of the Llanabba pupils. It’s love at first sight for Pennyfeather, but little does he know the surprises that lie ahead of him when he agrees to tutor her son over the summer holidays.
Adapting Decline and Fall for BBC Two is James Wood (Rev., Ambassadors, Vexed), with Guillem Morales (Julia’s Eyes, Inside No. 9) directing. The executive producers are Ben Cavey for Cavebear Productions, Will Gould for Tiger Aspect Drama, and James Wood.
Marking 50 years since Waugh’s death, Decline and Fall will premiere on BBC Two later in 2016. Stay tuned for updates on if and when it will screen in the US.
Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder, Mr Bean, The Thin Blue Line) is set to return as the legendary, fictional French detective, Jules Maigret, in new television adaptations of Night At The Crossroads and Maigret in Montmartre — two of prolific Belgian author Georges Simenon’s 75 “Maigret” novels.
ITV commissioned these additional “Maigret” films following the success of the first, Maigret Sets a Trap, which garnered critical acclaim and an impressive 28% share of the audience and consolidated 7.2 million viewers when it premiered earlier this year. The adaptation of Maigret’s Dead Man has already been filmed and will air on ITV later this year.
Stewart Harcourt (Agatha Raisin, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Marple), who adapted the first two “Maigret” films, will also adapt Night At The Crossroads.
All four films are set against the backdrop of 1950s Paris, with the new two-hour films going into production from November 2016 until February 2017. The executive producers are Barnaby Thompson for Thompson & Thompson Ltd, John Simenon (Georges Simenon’s son) for Georges Simenon Limited, Stewart Harcourt, and Jeremy Gwilt (Foyle’s War, Home Fires). Gwilt, who produced the first two “Maigret” films, will also produce the new films.
BBC Worldwide will handle global rights for the series outside of the UK. Stay tuned for updates about whether a stateside outlet picks up the films.
Filming has started in London on the television adaptation of Zadie Smith’s bestselling book, NW, which stars Nikki Amuka-Bird (Luther, Survivors, Five Days) and Phoebe Fox (The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses, Close to the Enemy, Life in Squares).
Natalie (Amuka-Bird) and Leah (Fox) are friends who grew up together in North West London, but whose lives have taken them in different directions. The former is outwardly successful but unfulfilled, while the life of the more-grounded Leah is also at a crossroads.
Also featuring in NW are Richie Campbell (The Frankenstein Chronicles) as Nathan and OT Fagbenle (The Interceptor) as Felix, as well as new talents Rosalind Eleazar as Shar, Ronke Adekoluejo as Grace, and James MacCallum as Tom.
Rachel Bennette (Ripper Street, Inspector Lewis, Lark Rise to Candleford) wrote the script, and Saul Dibb (Suite Française, The Duchess, Bullet Boy) is directing the 90-minute drama for BBC Two. Producing the film is Betsan Morris Evans (Endeavour), and the executive producers are Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, and Lucy Richer and Maxine Watson for BBC Two.
Details about NW‘s debut on BBC Two have not been announced yet, nor do we know if it will screen in the US, so stay tuned.
The Witness for the Prosecution
Set in 19250s London, the story centers on Leonard Vole, a young chancer who goes on trial for the brutal murder of Emily French, a rich and glamorous heiress who had bequeathed her vast fortune to him. Not only does all the evidence point to Leonard as Emily’s killer, the victim’s dedicated housekeeper, Janet Mackenzie, gives damning testimony that supports the prosecution’s case. However, Leonard is adamant that his partner, the enigmatic chorus girl Romaine, can prove his innocence.
Scripting the new suspense drama is Sarah Phelps (And Then There Were None, The Casual Vacancy, The Crimson Field), and Julian Jarrold (The Crown, The Girl, Appropriate Adult) is directing.
This two-part adaptation of The Witness for the Prosecution is the latest one for the screen; others include the 1957 Billy Wilder feature film and two made-for-TV movies.
A co-production of Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Productions for BBC One, in association with Acorn Media Enterprises/Acorn TV and A+E Studios, The Witness for the Prosecution is executive produced by James Prichard and Hilary Strong for Agatha Christie Productions, Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, and Sarah Phelps and Matthew Read for the BBC.
Viewers in the US are assured of being able to watch The Witness for the Prosecution, as Acorn TV is involved in the production through Acorn Media Enterprises, which has secured all US rights for the drama, as well as secondary rights in Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.