With the announcement of the new original limited series Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, BritBox entered the ever-growing market of Agatha Christie adaptations for a new generation. Directed by and starring Hugh Laurie, the BritBox original is part of a growing slate of series for the streaming service. Though the service is known as a niche subscriber on-demand here, it's rapidly becoming an ever-increasing mainstream force, with star-studded series like The Beast Must Die and the upcoming Magpie Murders.
Why Didn't They Ask Evans? is also following the A-list casting model. Laurie is but one prominent name, alongside Will Poulter (Dopesick) as Bobby Jones and Lucy Boynton (Murder on the Orient Express) as Lady Frankie. But the recently released first look photo from the new series also revealed two more high-level actors joined the cast, Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) and Jim Broadbent (Game of Thrones). These acting icons will play Lord and Lady Marcham, Lady Frankie's well-meaning but slightly bewildered parents.
This addition suggests the series will be taking liberties with the novel, where Frankie's parents are not characters. (Her father is mentioned offhandedly as the Earl of Marchington, but that's about it.) The new image also gives fans a good idea of what the new series will look like, which is far more modern than the original 1934 setting.
We are so excited to share the stellar cast who will be leading @hughlaurie's adaptation of Why Didn't They Ask Evans for @BritBoxTV. Will Poulter and Lucy Boynton will be taking on the roles of Bobby and Frankie! https://t.co/Sq6qFVrqQ3 #WhyDidntTheyAskEvans pic.twitter.com/Zrso7AHa8Q— Agatha Christie (@agathachristie) June 10, 2021
Thompson and Broadbent aren't the only additions announced. Others who will be part of the new series include Maeve Dermody (The Beast Must Die), Conleth Hill (Vienna Blood), and Jonathan Jules (Small Axe). Daniel Ings (I Hate Suzie), Miles Jupp (The Durrells), and Amy Nuttall (Downton Abbey) will play the Bassington-ffrench family, who all become suspects. (Yes, that's how their names are spelled in the books.) The series also co-stars Alistair Petrie (Sex Education) alongside Paul Whitehouse (The Personal History of David Copperfield), Morwenna Banks (Skins), and Joshua James (Black Mirror).
After several decades where the small screen was dominated by ITV's adaptations of Poirot and Marple, these far less adapted non-famous detective Christie stories are finally making it to screen in the wake of the retirement of David Suchet. Unlike Poirot, where Suchet played the detective for the whole run, Marple featured multiple actors in the lead role, Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie, trying to fill the shoes of the 1980s Miss Marple played by Joan Hickson, and when his run ended, ITV decided to conclude the latter simultaneously.
Though Why Didn't They Ask Evans? is one of Christie's "bright young things" stand-alone stories where a young aristocratic lady is the driving force to solve the mystery, fans of the ITV series will probably recognize the story. The Marple series reworked it to feature Christie's elderly crime-solving pensioner in 2011.
BritBox is known for its mystery library, which has the bulk of Christie adaptations stretching back to the 1970s-era films until the TV series of the last decade. If Why Didn't They Ask Evans? is successful, fans should expect more where this came from.
The three-part Why Didn't They Ask Evans? limited series is slated to debut in 2022 on BritBox.