The Witness for the Prosecution
The Witness for the Prosecution is the major new Agatha Christie adaptation by Sarah Phelps for BBC One. The two-part drama reunites the team behind last year’s critically acclaimed And Then There Were None, which achieved ratings of over 8 million.
Adapted from Christie’s short story of the same title, The Witness for the Prosecution is directed by the acclaimed film and television director Julian Jarrold (The Crown, Kinky Boots, Becoming Jane, The Girl, Appropriate Adult) and produced by Colin Wratten (The Musketeers, One Of Us).
The all-star cast includes Toby Jones (Detectorists, Marvellous, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Andrea Riseborough (Bloodline, Birdman, Oblivion), Kim Cattrall (Sensitive Skin, Sex and the City), David Haig (The Thick Of It, Mo, My Boy Jack), Billy Howle (The Sense of an Ending, The Seagull, Cider with Rosie), and Monica Dolan (Appropriate Adult, Eye In the Sky, The Casual Vacancy).
1920s London. A murder, brutal and bloodthirsty, has stained the plush carpets of a handsome London townhouse. The victim is the glamorous and rich Emily French (Kim Cattrall). All the evidence points to Leonard Vole (Billy Howle), a young chancer to whom the heiress left her vast fortune and who ruthlessly took her life. At least, this is the story that Emily’s dedicated housekeeper Janet McIntyre (Monica Dolan) stands by in court. Leonard however, is adamant that his partner, the enigmatic chorus girl Romaine (Andrea Riseborough), can prove his innocence. Tasked with representing Leonard is his solicitor John Mayhew (Toby Jones) and King’s Counsel, Sir Charles Carter KC (David Haig).
Sarah Phelps says: “When I read the short story it felt like the most perfect Film Noir for 1920s London, and, like the famous Noir of post World War II America, there is an incredible focus on the context of the times and how that might lead someone to commit a terrible murder. Dark, strange, unsettling and thrilling, you feel the rug of your certainties twitched from under your feet. I couldn’t wait to get going on it.”
In addition to And Then There Were None and The Witness for the Prosecution, Agatha Christie Productions Ltd and BBC One have cemented a unique production deal that will see Agatha Christie Ltd’s production arm deliver seven new Christie adaptations over the next four years.
The first of the novels is Ordeal by Innocence; other titles so far confirmed include Death Comes As The End, a groundbreaking murder mystery set in Ancient Egypt and The ABC Murders, a race against time to stop a serial killer who is operating across 1930s Britain.
The Witness for the Prosecution is a Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Productions’ drama for BBC One, in association with A+E Networks and RLJ Entertainment’s development arm, Acorn Media Enterprises. RLJE’s streaming service, Acorn TV, is also the US co-production partner and will premiere the new adaptation in the US. The executive producers are James Prichard and Hilary Strong for Agatha Christie Productions, Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, Matthew Read for the BBC and Sarah Phelps.