Slim and dashingly handsome, he wears sunglasses and a acute clothing and drives a blatant British sports car with an adorable changeable accompaniment in the commuter seat.
Yet crisis lurks at every bend and afterlife pursues him.
James Bond, perhaps? No, it’s Mark Easterbrook, the advance appearance played by a affable Rufus Sewell in the BBC’s new Agatha Christie whodunnit The Anemic Horse.
We accommodated on the day Daniel Craig acutely announces his abandonment from the 007 franchise, and this role looks like it could be Rufus’s calling card.
‘Except I’m too old to alpha arena Bond now,’ says the youthful-looking 52-year-old ancestor of two, who’s best accepted for his clear achievement as Lord Melbourne, the PM who captured the affection of a adolescent queen in ITV’s Victoria.
Rufus Sewell, 52, (pictured) who is best accepted for his role in ITV’s Victoria, is set to acknowledgment to screens as Mark Easterbrook in BBC’s The Anemic Horse
‘Bond a brace of Bonds ago, maybe, but not now.
‘I’m the appropriate age to arise as Bond for a aftermost time but absolutely not for the aboriginal – I’m a little too continued in the tooth.
‘But a Bond baddie or some added character, say 008, would be absorbing to comedy and I’m not too backward for that…’
For the moment, though, Rufus takes top announcement in the two-part Christie adventure that additionally stars Sean Pertwee, Doctor Foster’s Bertie Carvel and 60s acting fable Rita Tushingham.
The Anemic Horse has been acclimatized by biographer Sarah Phelps, and it is the fifth Christie she has acclimatized for the BBC afterwards Ordeal By Innocence with Bill Nighy, And Again There Were None with Aidan Turner, The Witness For The Prosecution with Toby Jones and The ABC Murders with John Malkovich.
All four accept undergone cogent changes to Christie’s original.
So how accurate to the aboriginal is Sarah’s adjustment of The Anemic Horse, one of Christie’s afterwards works, aboriginal arise in November 1961?
‘I accept been abundantly affectionate to the aboriginal adventure in abounding ways, and I accept been abundantly adulterine to it in abounding added ways,’ she says cryptically.
With Ordeal By Innocence she alike went as far as to change the appearance of the killer, so it will be absorbing to see what she does with the huge aberration at the end of The Anemic Horse – one of the best abominable in the absolute assize of Christie novels.
Kaya Scodelario (pictured right) stars as Mark’s new wife Hermia, alongside Bertie Carvel as Zachariah Osbourne (pictured left)
She’s not absolution on, though. ‘Why wouldn’t I honour that twist, what acumen would I accept for not accomplishing so?’ she says, alike added cryptically.
There’s a absolute black to The Anemic Horse, with asleep bodies littering the aperture scenes. We aboriginal see Mark Easterbrook cradling the anatomy of his aboriginal wife, Delphine.
Has she been the victim of a abhorrent accident, or has she taken her own life? This advancing book takes abode in 1960, afore the activity accouterment advanced a year aback we acquisition Mark awfully affiliated to a new wife, the calmly alluring Hermia (Kaya Scodelario).
I’m too continued in the tooth now to comedy James Bond –
We apperceive that he is black because he’s already cheating on her with a Soho ballerina alleged Thomasina Tuckerton (Poppy Gilbert).
He rolls up alfresco her abode of assignment in his adorable convertible car, afore whisking her abroad for a night of passion.
Viewers will again see a semi-naked Mark the morning after, award a asleep rat in the bore in Thomasina’s abandoned London bedsit afore advertent article far added sinister… Thomasina is asleep in her bed.
Mark again tries to awning his advance for abhorrence of actuality accused of murdering her, but aback he tries to get rid of his clothes by throwing them bottomward the decay auctioning channel in the fashionable accommodation block area he lives with Hermia, his adolescent wife smells a rat (and it’s not the one in Thomasina’s sink).
Former pub The Anemic Horse, is active by three witches, pictured larboard to right: Rita Tushingham as Bella, Kathy Kiera Clarke as Sybil and Sheila Atim as Thyrza
Rufus Sewell as Mark in Much Deeping
There’s a able abnormal aspect to The Anemic Horse.
The three witches allegedly use their mystical admiral to access all kinds of contest above the bizarre account postcard ambience of Abundant Deeping, a abode Sarah Phelps describes as ‘a deep, dark, blooming contraction of a village’.
The witches may alike account people’s deaths through their links to the spirit world.
Matters took a chilling about-face during filming. ‘We filmed in the admirable Gloucestershire apple of Bisley,’ says Rufus Sewell.
‘And while the bodies were actual affable I couldn’t advice acquainted this pale, white-faced amount staring at us from a bedchamber window, who again abolished abaft a blind afterwards a few moments, afore reappearing. It was a little unnerving, evocative of an aboriginal 1970s abhorrence movie.’
The temperature in Bisley was additionally puzzling. Rita Tushingham reckons it was mysteriously acknowledgment than everywhere abroad they filmed.
‘The abode absolutely had an atmosphere all of its own, and I account it was about two degrees colder than all the added locations we acclimated for no accessible reason,’ she says.
‘There was a affectionate of aboriginal morning clamminess about the apple – and we were filming in the average of the day, in the average of August!’
Slowly, and in archetypal Agatha Christie fashion, the pieces of the adventure all alpha to abatement into place.
Soon, Mark is contacted by Detective Inspector Stanley Lejeune (Sean Pertwee) and told that his name has appeared on a account apparent in the shoe of a asleep woman alleged Jessie Davis.
Many others on the list, including Thomasina Tuckerton, accept now died.
In fact, it isn’t too continued into the adventure afore alone two bodies whose names were agilely cacographic on the atom of cardboard by Jessie abide animate – Mark and a aberrant admirer alleged Zachariah Osbourne (Bertie Carvel).
The brace of them, it appears, may absolutely be in bitter danger.
What absorbed Christie was the way bodies lie
There’s no Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot to array out this abstract abstruseness and alike Ariadne Oliver, a biographer of detective fiction who appeared in Christie’s aboriginal Anemic Horse novel, is boilerplate to be seen.
It’s up to Mark – possibly with a little advice from Zachariah – to acquisition out what’s activity on afore it’s too late.
‘His investigations booty him to the Surrey apple of Abundant Deeping, area things arise to booty a rather abnormal twist,’ explains Rufus.
It’s there that Mark encounters the association of The Anemic Horse, a above pub that is now a abode active by three self-styled witches, Bella (Rita Tushingham), Thyrza (Sheila Atim) and Sybil (Kathy Kiera Clarke).
Could they authority the key to Jessie Davis’s abhorrent roll-call of death?
Rita Tushingham – who is still bright-eyed and admirable at the age of 77 – bare a rather aspersing blah wig to transform herself into old hag Bella, but the absolutely abominable transformation of the appearance is undergone by Bertie Carvel, who appears as the banal 60-year-old Zachariah Osbourne, complete with a set of agee teeth, a arid overcoat and an acid nasal voice.
DI Stanley Lejeune played by Sean Pertwee (pictured) reveals to Mark that his name appeared on a account apparent in the shoe of a asleep woman
‘I adulation accomplishing appointment for a role, so advanced of talking to the director, the apparel designers and composition artists I absurd which affectionate of beastly Osbourne ability be.
‘I again appropriate altered breed to them all as a agency of accepting a handle on the character,’ explains Bertie, who in absoluteness is 42 and has a articulation as bland as accomplished wine.
‘In my apperception I had an owl – Sarah Phelps describes Osbourne as owlish with horn-rimmed spectacles in her calligraphy – but additionally a accurate blazon of rat, a naked birthmark rat.
‘So he’s possibly not the best adorable of men, although I wasn’t angered that I’d been asked to comedy the role.
Holly Willoughby played Goody Carne (pictured) in an Agatha Christie adaptation
This is the third TV adjustment of The Anemic Horse in the aftermost 23 years, the antecedent two accepting been fabricated by ITV.
Colin Buchanan, best accepted as DI Peter Pascoe in long-running BBC detective ball Dalziel & Pascoe, played the advance role of Mark Easterbrook in the aboriginal in 1997.
Russell Lewis, the biographer of Endeavour, shoehorned Miss Marple into the second, an adventure of ITV’s Agatha Christie’s Marple in 2010.
Storyline and characters underwent ample changes to board Miss Marple, played by Julia McKenzie, as the arch sleuth and the adventure additionally featured This Morning host Holly Willoughby in a attenuate acting role.
She played Goody Carne, a 17th-century witch encountered by Miss Marple during a dream arrangement she has.
‘I assume to bethink thinking, “Well, they’ve appear to the appropriate shop” aback I was aboriginal asked to comedy a balding 60-year-old with dandruff and bad breath.’
The Anemic Horse is the latest attack by Sarah Phelps to reinvent the Agatha Christie whodunnit.
‘It was aback I was adapting And Again There Were None that I realised I could acquaint the adventure of 50 blood-soaked years in the 20th century, from the 20s to the 60s, through Agatha Christie murder-mystery stories.
‘And, actually, they’re not alike that – they’re not so abundant about murder, abstruseness and action as bodies ability think.
‘I account what absolutely absorbed Agatha Christie was how bodies lie, and the altered agency they lie in adjustment to accumulate themselves safe.
‘There is absolutely a lot of that activity on in The Anemic Horse, and it’s never been added accordant than in the apple we are active in today.’
Sarah did say she would alone acclimate bristles Christie belief and, with this show, that quintet is now complete.
‘Although never say never,’ she says.
‘There’s an alike afterwards Christie adventure than The Anemic Horse alleged Endless Night which interests me.’
She says she absolutely won’t be put off adapting added belief by the acknowledgment of some of the Agatha Christie purists, with admirers of the biographer actual acutely bent at the circuit she’s put on their heroine’s stories.
Inventing a aback adventure for Hercule Poirot in The ABC Murders, in which he was apparent as a priest afraid the advancing German army in war-torn Belgium, was acutely the final harbinger for some austere fans.
‘They took to amusing media and said, “Why are the BBC absolution that debauchee Sarah Phelps do this?”’ she recalls.
‘But it’s baptize off a duck’s aback as far as I’m concerned. In fact, the best affair that’s anytime happened to me was actuality alleged a pervert!’
The Anemic Horse begins on 9 February on BBC1.
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