Sublime Christie! But the sex would've left Agatha aghast: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV
An exquisite gold artefact beneath its glass dome in a museum is an object to be admired. We can study it, approve of it, offer a few well-judged words of appreciation.
But that same jewelled treasure in a pair of careless hands becomes the focus of our fascination. We can’t take our eyes off it as it flips up in the air, from palm to palm, spinning between fingers — waiting for the moment it falls and shatters.
And that is how we watched the three-part adaptation of arguably the greatest of Agatha Christie’s 73 novels, And Then There Were None (BBC1), which began on Boxing Day and screened on consecutive nights.
Shocked: Dame Agatha would have been 'aghast' at the sex scenes added to her book's TV adaption, pictured
The cast, including Charles Dance, Anna Maxwell Martin, Miranda Richardson and Aidan Turner, was sublime. But from the outset, the script by former EastEnders writer Sarah Phelps seemed to be taking dangerous liberties — small at first but soon becoming outrageous shockers.
Characters swore: not just mealy-mouthed mutterings, but full-blast outbursts of four-letter words. Vera Claythorne, the timid secretary played by Maeve Dermody, through whose eyes we saw much of the action, featured in two sex scenes — the first with her fiancé and another with a guest at the island hotel where the residents were being murdered one by one. Dame Agatha would have been aghast.
But each time it seemed the drama was spinning out of control, a deft touch caught and held it. This sleight of hand was as clever as the scatter of clues and misdirection throughout Christie’s masterpiece.
The suspects’ past crimes were illuminated with flashbacks that revealed their secret motives: the bluff policeman was a repressed homosexual; the Christian spinster had preyed on girls in her charge.
By the end, we trusted Phelps not to fumble it, even when she plunged the remaining characters into a debauched party fuelled by brandy and cocaine.
Those ominous hooks in the ceiling meant something. So did the polar bear rug with the gaping jaws, and the modernist jade figurines, and the cut-glass whisky tumblers. To make the adaptation even better, obsessive care had been lavished on the set. The hotel was the stage for a series of killings planned with meticulous attention to detail, and so were all the props.
This creepy hotel was Thirties Gothic and every strange item that caught the eye had a double meaning.
Of course, you might not have been watching for any of that. Perhaps your main hope was that Turner, here playing a psychopathic mercenary, but best known for his smouldering Cap’n Ross Poldark, would take his shirt off. And you were not disappointed. As the characters searched for a missing revolver, Phelps had them all undress, to prove they were not hiding anything.
The lens didn’t linger on Dance or Toby Stephens, but our Aidan seemed oddly reluctant to put his clothes back on. He wore a bedsheet like a low-slung sarong, and while the camera inspected him from back, front and both sides, millions of viewers were reassured that his chest hair is as neatly tended as ever.
Heart-throb: The lens lingered on a semi-naked Aiden Turner, pictured as Philip Lombard, in the TV drama
Talented display: The casting in And Then There Were None was 'sublime', pictured, the cast pose for a photo
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3376795/Sublime-Christie-sex-ve-left-Agatha-aghast-CHRISTOPHER-STEVENS-reviews-night-s-TV.html#ixzz3vf2HuTTz
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook