There has been a murder most foul and in the eyes of Agatha Christie’s devoted fans there is only one suspect.
No need to gather in the library for a brilliant explanation from a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. The victim is Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence slashed to ribbons by TV writer Sarah Phelps.
Writers will often tweak established stories but Phelps took a hatchet to the queen of crime’s 1958 work.
The Sunday night three- parter was dramatic and tense but Christie fans are accusing her of supreme arrogance for tampering with the original. Perhaps we should carefully examine the evidence by comparing the two plots.
In Christie, Rachel was murdered by housemaid Kirsten persuaded by Rachel’s “delinquent” son Jacko, who seduced middle-aged women and fleecing them for cash.
Rachel had refused to pay his debts so Jacko convinced besotted Kirsten to steal Rachel’s money and kill her.
But Jacko’s plan fell apart when Dr Calgary, his intended unwittingly alibi, was hit by a car and suffered amnesia.
Calgary read about the murder months later in an old paper and Jacko was hauled off to jail. Kirsten, real she was being strung along did not speak up for Jacko, who died in jail after six months of pneumonia.
Kirsten kills again to protect herself, stabs another character and frames a third. Calgary turns Hercule Poirot and works out the truth.
In Phelps’ version Jack was Kirsten’s son rather than lover. Leo kills wife Rachel when she threatened to divorce him over an affair, leaving him penniless.
Leo is also Jack’s father, having forced himself on to Kirsten when she was 15, making him both a paedophile and a rapist.
Rachel agreed to adopt the baby but vowed never to tell Jack the truth – a promise she then broke.
Leo killed another and, in a particularly dark twist, had his own son bumped off in prison to prevent him from revealing his tryst with Kirsten.
Kirsten finally worked out whodunnit having found the murder weapon – an ancient Egyptian statue – in Leo’s office.
Leo is supposed to have commited suicide but is locked away in a nuclear bunker. Agatha Christie, liked adaptations of her work to be bold, but would she have approved? That will have to remain a mystery.
Game of Thrones
Hardcore fans of George RR Martin’s fantasy book series will notice a few differences between the novels and the hit HBO show, which started in 2011.
Series three sees Robb’s young wife Talisa stabbed to death through her stomach when she is pregnant. But in the books Robb decides not to bring Talisa to the wedding and she survives.
And Jojen Reed is killed off in the season four finale but in the books he has far more significance in the plot – which would make his death problematic.
Mance Rayder’s death at the stake is as written – except in the books it emerges the victim was not him.
And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery novel from 1939 revolves around 10 people who are invited to an island by a mysterious host.
They have all been complicit in the deaths of others but have escaped punishment and so are killed off one by one in the style of the American poem Ten Little Indians.
Christie adapted the novel for the stage because its ending was too dark for theatre audiences, and Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard manage to escape.
The BBC’s adaptation, aired in 2015, mostly honoured Christie’s original, but there were changes, including how and where some characters die.
The Hand Maid’s Tale
Published in 1985, Margaret Atwood’s bestseller is a dystopian tale about Offred, who is torn from her family and forced into sexual slavery by the Gilead regime.
The 2017 TV series was set in the present-day, while the original was set in the 1970s and 1980s.
The book ends with Offred getting into a black van heading to an unknown future. The TV series, with Elisabeth Moss as Offred, above, ended in the same way, but the second season will carry on the story without the book to draw on. Anything could happen.
Adapted from Jessie Burton’s novel, the 2017 BBC drama set in Amsterdam tells the story of Nella (Anya Taylor-Joy), a young woman who moves in with her mysterious new husband (Alex Hassell).
He gives her a wedding present of a doll’s house designed to look like their home and she employs a miniaturist to add furnishings to it.
The miniaturist begins sending lifelike dolls and furnishings and is able to predict the future. In the book, Nella never meets the miniaturist but in the TV adaptation, she confronts her nemesis.
The ending had mixed reviews, with some viewers complaining they found the story confusing.
The Night Manager
John Le Carre’s sons Stephen and Simon Cornwell co-produced the 2016 BBC series, bringing their father’s spy-thriller to life.
But the novel differed from the TV show in many ways.
Olivia Colman’s character Angela Burr was originally a man in the book, which was set in 1993 and not the present.
As for the ending, in the novel Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) is not hauled off to his doom, but completes the arms deal and escapes while Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), above, and Jed Marshal (Elizabeth Debicki) survive and live together.
War and Peace
Adapting Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel into just six episodes might seem daunting, but for screenwriter Andrew Davies it was “dead easy”.
The BBC series, starring James Norton, follows five families during Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia.
Davies admitted he sexed up the 2016 BBC series, spicing the love stories with aspects he claims Tolstoy “forgot to write”. This meant an added incest storyline which shows siblings Anatole Kuragin and Helene in a seductive scene.
In the book Natasha Rostova is lonely and fraught with jealousy over her husband’s absences. The series ends with them enjoying a picnic with their children.
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