Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, Agatha Christie’s classic 1934 novel, is being brought to life in a new three-part adaptation, penned and directed by House star Hugh Laurie.
The drama, available on Britbox from Tuesday, April 12 in the US and Canada and Thursday, April 14 in the UK, follows former naval officer Bobby Jones (Dopesick and The Revenant’s Will Poulter) who comes across a dying man at the bottom of a cliff who utters the mysterious words, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?”
Bobby soon teams up with his spirited aristocratic old friend Lady Frankie Derwent (The Ipcress File’s Lucy Boynton) to learn what lies behind the strange question and what has led to the man’s demise. As their investigations take them to a country house in Hampshire, they are drawn into a web of secrets and murder.
We caught up with Will Poulter to find out more about Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?...
Why Didn't They Ask Evans? is full of twists! How do you see Bobby?
“He's studious and conscientious but directionless – he’s playing the church organ, he’s a golf caddy and he's also fixing up cars. But he turns amateur sleuth by way of the body that he stumbles upon and finds his true calling.”
What intrigues him about this man’s death?
“The question he utters is so ambiguous and Bobby, who has just returned from the navy and may have suffered similar losses of friends, feels you can’t leave the question of a dying man unanswered.”
What is Bobby and Frankie’s relationship like?
“Frankie brings out the best in Bobby, she draws the ambition, optimism and sense of adventure out of him. She’s fearless and very smart and causes him to raise his game and spring into action. Frankie is the mastermind and bravely goes into the lion's den. And Lucy is just brilliant. I was so delighted that she was Frankie. I truly can't imagine anyone else in that role. She's one of my favorite actors of our generation.”
Did you enjoy working with Hugh Laurie, who also plays one of the suspects, sanatorium director Dr James Nicholson?
“Agatha Christie’s such a well-loved name in literature, so you're off to a good start anyway but Hugh captures the spirit of the book and delivers on the things that people love about Christie's work, while also giving it contemporary energy and humor. There’s the thrill of the chase, but it’s peppered with jokes throughout and that was fun to play. Hugh also preserves the mystery right up until the end, so there’s this big hair-raising moment that I don't think anyone can see coming.”
You also have some wonderful co-stars including Dame Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent as Frankie’s parents Lord and Lady Marcham and Paul Whitehouse as pub landlord Mr Askew...
“That was an honor. I grew up watching Paul Whitehouse and always looked up to him. To be in scenes with these people is something you never imagine happening!”
What were your favourite scenes?
“Being on a fairground waltzer [that Bobby helps to run] was good fun. It was important I looked steady because I was playing someone who'd spent several years on a ship. That did require some acting because it was stomach-churning!”
How did you find the 1930s costumes?
“I don't know if I'll be wearing my trousers that high again and it's quite a ‘woolly’ period so it was pretty hot! But the costumes were brilliant. Bobby has a leather jacket that he can pull off, but I absolutely can't. I'm not cool enough! The costume department were very kind and said, 'Do you want your leather jacket at the end?' I was like, 'I would love it. But I can't take myself seriously wearing it!'”
What do you hope people take away from the show?
“I can see families trying to guess what's going on and debating the theories. I hope they fall in love with the characters like we did and that they enjoy the ride!”
Why Didn't They Ask Evans? is available on Britbox from Tuesday, April 12 in the US and Canada and Thursday, April 14 in the UK.
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Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.
Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.
Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.
In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.