The year is 1933 and a killer stalks Britain, known only as A.B.C. They strike in a methodical pattern and leave a copy of the ABC railway guide at the scene of each of murder. As Poirot (John Malkovich) attempts to investigate he is thwarted on every front; by a police force that no longer trusts him, a public that no longer adores him, and an enemy determined to outsmart him. If Poirot is to match his most cunning nemesis everything about him will be called into question; his authority, his integrity, his past, his identity.
In her fourth Agatha Christie adaptation in conjunction with Agatha Christie Limited and Mammoth Screen, Bafta-nominated writer Sarah Phelps continues to explore the 20th century through the work of Britain’s greatest crime writer. This time it is the 1930s; a divided country where suspicion and hatred are on the rise, and the gap between wealth and poverty is great and growing greater.
In the midst of this we find Hercule Poirot and his little grey cells. Poirot has aged and the world has changed quickly around him. England, tolerant, welcoming England, squeezed by Depression, by the dark news from Germany, isn’t as tolerant and welcoming. The jubilation of winning the Great War has evaporated, now all there is, is a mess. Someone has to take the blame and sympathy for Displaced People has run out. As the British Union of Fascists gains ground, inveighing against ‘aliens’, Poirot feels even more like the outsider that he is. Even worse, he has been swept aside by the new brooms in the police and forgotten by the Bright Young Things whose dinner parties he entertained. But somebody has not forgotten him.
The A.B.C. killer travels the length and breadth of Britain to taunt Poirot. The ominous rumble of the train tracks connects every sinew of the country, every corner of opulence and poverty bound together. As Poirot tracks the killer across a riven, tense England, the case peels back the layers of the persona he’s created to survive in a foreign land, surrounded by strangers where the only person who seems to truly understand him, is the deranged, uncontrolled killer.
Cast and crew
John Malkovich... Hercule Poirot
Rupert Grint... Crome
Andrew Buchan... Franklin Clarke
Anya Chalotra... Lily Marbury
Eamon Farren... Cust
Jack Farthing... Donald Fraser
Tara Fitzgerald... Lady Hermione Clarke
Shirley Henderson... Mrs Rose Marbury
Bronwyn James... Megan Barnard
Freya Mavor... Thora Grey
Michael Shaeffer... Yelland
Eve Austin... Betty Barnard
Gregor Fisher... Dexter Dooley
Henry Goodman... Sidney Prynne
Lizzy McInnerny... Jenny Barnard
Kevin McNally... Japp
Cyril Nri... Father Anselm
Suzanne Packer... Capstick
Christopher Villiers... Sir Carmichael Clarke
Writer and Executive Producer... Sarah Phelps
Executive Producers for Mammoth Screen... Damien Timmer and Helen Ziegler
Executive Producers for Agatha Christie Ltd... James Prichard and Basi Akpabio
Director... Alex Gabassi
Producer... Farah Abushwesha
Director of Photography... Joel Devlin
Production Designer... Jeff Tessler
Costume Designer... Lindsay Pugh
Hair and Make-up Designer... Sam Marshall
Casting Director... Karen Lindsay-Stewart
Editor (Episodes 1 and 3)... Simon Brasse
Editor (Episode 1 and 2)... Rob Hall
Composer... Isobel Waller Bridge
The world-famous Belgian private detective who believes he has a debt to the dead. Despite his little grey cells becoming greyer and his popularity decreasing, his intelligence, determination and wit remain unrivalled.
The new broom at Scotland Yard. Young, upcoming and hot-headed but undoubtedly deserves to be where he is, despite what some of the older officers might think. He doesn’t have time for detectives of the past interfering with his cases.
A quiet recluse who resides at Marbury Boarding House as a base for his new venture in selling women’s stockings. He desperately searches for ways to ease his pain and suffering. He gives nothing away but he certainly has some bad habits.
A policeman working at Scotland Yard and Crome’s right-hand man. A voice of authority that firmly shares Inspector Crome’s beliefs.
An ex-police officer forced into retirement, respected by many in the force and a dear friend of Hercule’s. He now spends most of his time at his allotment.
Franklin is caring, handsome and possesses a smile to melt your heart. He loves to gamble, whether it be with money or with the hearts of women. He is the brother of Sir Carmichael Clarke
Lady Hermione Clarke
A great admirer of Hercule Poirot. Ill, bed-ridden and jealous, she prefers to reminisce about the times when everyone was young and beautiful. She is the wife of Sir Carmichael Clarke.
Astonishingly beautiful, composed and modest. She was adopted into the Clarke family as one of their own and has become very close with Sir Carmichael Clarke, a fact which has not gone unnoticed by others in the household.
She has been a fiercely loyal servant to the Carmichaels for years. She distrusts Thora Grey and her intentions surrounding Sir Carmichael Clarke.
A sprightly and flirtatious Bexhill girl who gets what she wants from the men she desires. There’s a cold heart behind her warm smile and wicked tongue to match.
She’s stuck in a family that she doesn’t feel part of and has come to resent them. She’s kind and intelligent but her low self-esteem is her downfall, always ending up at the mercy of her sister, Betty or her ex-boyfriend, Donald.
The ex-boyfriend of Megan Barnard and fiancé of her sister, Betty. He’s charming, self-centred and doted on by Betty and Megan’s mother.
The unloved daughter of Rose Marbury who lives with her mother at Marbury Boarding House. She is well acquainted with certain guests who are willing to pay thanks to her mother. She has a kind heart some may mistake for naivety.
The owner of Marbury Boarding House, she takes no prisoners especially amongst her guests. Her daughter, Lily, finds herself at the end of Rose’s drunken outbursts.
The husband of Alice Asher, who owns the local shop in Andover. A burly alcoholic who seeks comfort at the bottom of a bottle after nasty arguments with his wife.
The cantankerous owner of the local Andover shop who often squabbles with her husband, Peter. Her sharp tongue and cold demeanour drive away the few customers she has.
Sir Carmichael Clarke
Gentle, patrician, curious and kind. The only thing he loves more than his family is his dog, Wilbur.
Loud, fast-talking Northern businessman who is coming apart at the seams. He works in ladies’ stockings and loves the sound of his own voice.
An animated, plump entertainer and ventriloquist. He has thinning hair, a pencil moustache, spiv style and a sallow face. He is late 40s and feels every second of it.