WHY CAN’T TV EVER STICK TO THE ORIG­I­NAL?

Daily Mirror - - NEWS - BY NI­COLA METHVEN TVEdi­tor Mickey in TV drama ni­cola.methven@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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 barely recog­nis­able vic­tim is Christie’s Or­deal by In­no­cence, slashed to rib­bons by TV writer Sarah Phelps for the BBC.

Es­tab­lished sto­ries are of­ten tweaked, but Phelps took a hatchet to the queen of crime’s 1958 work.

The Sun­day night three­parter was dra­matic and tense but Christie fans ac­cuse her of supreme ar­ro­gance for tam­per­ing with the orig­i­nal.

The ev­i­dence is over­whelm­ing – but you need to pay at­ten­tion.

In Christie, Rachel was mur­dered by house­maid Kirsten, per­suaded by the vic­tim’s “delin­quent” son Jacko, who se­duced mid­dle-aged women and fleeced 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 un­wit­ting 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, re­al­is­ing she was be­ing strung along did not speak up for Jacko, who died in jail af­ter six months of pneu­mo­nia.

As if that wasn’t enough, Kirsten kills again to pro­tect her­self, stabs an­other char­ac­ter and frames Mickey.

Some­how, Cal­gary man­ages to work out the truth. But in Phelps’ ver­sion, the plot is thick­ened with some darker themes. Jack was Kirsten’s son, not lover. Leo kills wife Rachel when she threat­ens to di­vorce him over an affair, leav­ing him skint. Leo is also Jack’s fa­ther, hav­ing forced him­self on 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 dark twist, had his own son bumped off in prison to pre­vent him from re­veal­ing his tryst with Kirsten.

Kirsten fi­nally works out who­dun­nit – with an an­cient Egyp­tian statue – in Leo’s of­fice. And Leo is sup­posed to have killed him­self.

Would Agatha Christie have ap­proved? That’s a mys­tery. But she’s hardly the first to have her work changed for TV, as these show...

CHANGE Maid Kirsten was the orig­i­nal Christie killer GRIM FATE Rachel lies in pool of blood

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