And Then There Were None (2015)
Directed by: Craig Viveiros
Written by: Agatha Christie, Sarah Phelps
Starring: Aidan Turner, Anna Maxwell Martin, Burn Gorman, Charles Dance, Douglas Booth, Maeve Dermody, Miranda Richardson, Noah Taylor, Sam Neill, Toby Stephens
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (2015)
Directed by Craig Viveiros
Aired on BBC and now on DVD
Set in 1939, eight strangers are invited to Soldier Island off the Devon coast by Mr and and Mrs U.N. Owen. Upon their arrival, they’re greeted by housekeepers Mr and Mrs Rogers who are to entertain their guests’ every whim. After a hearty meal with the hosts still absent, the guests are stunned when a recording blares through the stately home announcing each of their names and people they have each allegedly murdered. No sooner has the recording stopped that the first of the guests mysteriously dies and one by one the guests are picked off in a way that mimics the Ten Little Soldiers poem which is framed in each of the bedrooms. Stuck on the island, the guests must work out which one of them is the killer before they become the next victim.
Three one-hour episodes mini-series AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is adapted from murder mystery author Agatha Christie’s best-selling book of all time. Unlike Christie’s other books which feature a detective to solve the mystery, this particular work relies upon the reader and the characters themselves to try to solve the mystery before another one bites the dust.
A whole host of stellar actors have come together for the BBC three-parter version of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, including one of my favourites Sam Neill, Charles Dance, Miranda Richardson, Aidan Turner, Burn Gorman, Noah Taylor and Toby Stephens, just to name a few. Each of the characters they play have their own profession or personality along with a secret history they’d rather not reveal. Our lead character, Vera Claythorne, played by Maeve Dermody, is a school P.E. teacher who’s been hired by the Owens as their secretary yet she finds herself visiting the home on Soldier Island at the same time as the other guests, each who’ve been invited to the home for different reasons. Judge Lawrence Wargrave (Charles Dance) has been invited to relax and recoup on the island with a mutual friend of theirs whilst mercenary Philip Lombard (Aidan Turner) has been hired in case events get out of hand. Although at first none of the guests really divulge the reason they are attending the island home, it soon becomes apparent that they’ve been summoned under false pretences with some of the guests convinced that U.N. Owen himself is spying on the individuals, watching the madness unfold.
It’s quickly established in the series that these individuals will be killed in some shape or form with the soldier statues on the dining table also disappearing one by one along with one of the island’s residents. They key drive of the series is how the characters react to one another, the allegiances which are made and who seems to be telling the truth and who is keeping secrets. Some characters instantly make enemies of themselves, such as young, cocky Anthony Marston (played by Douglas Booth) who’s reckless, carefree attitude rubs his elders up the wrong way. Others are more sympathetic such as Mrs Rogers (Anna Maxwell Martin) who slaves over a hot cooker preparing food for the guests whilst a prissy Emily Brent (Miranda Richardson) criticises her personal hygiene and visual affliction. Over the three hour episodes, the viewer’s opinion switches back and forth between trusting these characters and becoming suspicious of them as just as we think we know them more information is revealed about their past which makes us distrust them and even despise them more than we do already. However, the question is who is the murderer and can they be stopped before there is no-one remaining?
Beautifully shot with immaculate and authentic feeling set design, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is a gripping mini-series with a masterclass in performances by all involved. The series truly had me guessing until the final minute which is what you want out of a good murder mystery work. The final ten minutes didn’t end how I expected it to and although it left me with a taste of dissatisfaction, I have to congratulate everyone involved for creating such a stellar piece of television even if the finale wasn’t to my liking.