Fellowes to give Agatha Christie the 'Downton' treatment
Monday 21 March 2011
After breathing new life into ITV's Sunday night schedule with the hit period drama Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes is planning to reinvigorate the image of Agatha Christie with a film adaptation of the whodunnit Crooked House.
The film, set just after the Second World War, will be directed by the edgy American writer and director Neil LaBute and shot in London later this year. Fellowes said: "I love the period, I love Agatha Christie and I love the idea of reinventing it. It will be exciting to work with a really vivid, contemporary director – he's one of the originals around at the moment."
There have been suggestions that Christie's tales have become fusty, and ITV is reportedly considering axing Poirot after 22 years, with one source saying the series was "struggling to get [financial] backing".
But Fellowes, a committed Christie fan, disagrees. "I love Christie and don't think it's at all dated," he said. "It's one of those things that never go stale: murder in a genteel setting appeals to audiences in Britain and around the world. I first read them as I was growing up. We had a holiday cottage in Ireland, and when I was 16 I discovered my first tranche of Agatha Christie novels."
The Oscar-winning screenplay writer, who wrote a film adaptation of Vanity Fair and the script for The Young Victoria, said it would be exciting to work on a classic whodunnit (rather than Gosford Park, which he described as a "who cares whodunnit"). He was pleased it was one of Christie's stand-alone books. "I like that for a feature film; you aren't seeing one side of the cake," he said.
Crooked House, which Christie said was one of her two favourite novels, was published in 1949 and based in London in the autumn of 1947. The narrator, Charles Hayward, is told by his fiancée Sophia that she cannot marry him until the killer of her grandfather, who has been poisoned, is found.
Fellowes said his current priority was to get the second series of Downton Abbey "done and dusted" and make sure it was "not a disappointment" for audiences. The first series, described as "the best thing since Brideshead Revisited", was ITV's most successful drama of 2010, with more than nine million viewers.
Then he will make "a bit of a jump" through history to focus on Christie. And while the pressure is on for the second series of Downton Abbey to live up to expectations, it will not ease with the Christie adaptation – Fellowes' wife, Emma, will be watching keenly as "Christie's greatest fan".
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 4 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 5 Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
First Look at Bryan Cranston transformed into LBJ for HBO’s ‘All the Way’ film
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
This little boy loves books so much that he cries when his mother stops reading to him
Prog rock finally comes of age with launch of the first Official Progressive Chart
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up