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Bill Nighy, Eleanor Tomlinson to star in Agatha Christie's Ordeal By Innocence

bill nighy
(Image credit: PA Wire/PA Images)

The BBC has assembled another star-studded cast for its third major adaptation of an Agatha Christie story

The BBC has put together a heavyweight international cast that includes Catherine Keener (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), Bill Nighy and Poldark's Eleanor Tomlinson for Agatha Christie's Ordeal By Innocence, the third in its series of modern adaptations.

Filming begins in Scotland this month on Ordeal By Innocence, which has been written by Sarah Phelps, and will reunite the team behind last December’s The Witness for the Prosecution and And Then There Were None in December 2015.

Joining the trio of stars will be Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey), Anthony Boyle (Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams: The Commuter), Ed Westwick (White Gold), Luke Treadaway (A Street Cat Named Bob), Morven Christie (The A Word), Crystal Clarke (Assassin’s Creed), Ella Purnell (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) and Alice Eve (Star Trek Into Darkness).

Catherine Keener


James Prichard, executive producer and executive chairman of Agatha Christie Limited, said: "Ordeal By Innocence was one of Christie's personal favourites and I cannot wait to see how this outstanding cast will bring her story to life under the skillful direction of Sandra Goldbacher and the Mammoth Screen production team. To have Bill Nighy and Catherine Keener head up this all-star cast really is a testament to the depth and quality of my great grandmother’s writing."

Damien Timmer, executive producer, Mammoth Screen, said: “Sarah Phelps has excelled herself with this spellbinding adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s most celebrated stories. A gloriously dark deconstruction of an apparently perfect family, we hope it delights and chills viewers when it airs!"

Ordeal by Innocence is set at Christmas 1954, where wealthy philanthropist Rachel Argyll is murdered at her family estate Sunny Point. Her adopted son Jack Argyll, a young delinquent, is arrested for her murder. He vehemently protests his innocence.

Eighteen months later, Dr Arthur Calgary, a scientist, walks onto the velvety lawns of Sunny Point claiming to have just returned from an expedition to the Arctic. Even more extraordinary is his claim to hold the alibi that can prove Jack’s innocence. But Jack died in prison before the case could come to trial, and the Argyll family is reluctant to dig up the secrets of the past.

Rachel’s widower Leo is about to remarry his secretary Gwenda and none of Rachel’s other adopted children Mary, Mickey, Tina or Hester, nor long-standing housekeeper Kirsten, is willing to reopen that most horrendous chapter of their lives. However, the shattering implications of Calgary’s story are too big to avoid; if he is telling the truth then the wrong person was arrested for Rachel’s murder. And if Jack was not the killer, then it must have been somebody else at Sunny Point...

Ordeal By Innocence is likely to screen at Christmas on BBC1.

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.