|An Agatha Christie character shows off her pussy on BBC One|
There are quite a few very Agatha Christie fans in my family (and not only the older members), so any adaptation gets watched. BBC One's latest version of The Witness For The Prosecution didn't get good reviews from them. It was far too dimly-lit for starters and it just didn't feel like Agatha Christie, they said.
His review is a brilliant piece of writing - so much so that I'm going to copy and paste it all for once:
Indulgent BBC has its history wrong, againNaturally, I didn't watch it.
Agatha Christie’s Witness For The Prosecution was a successful play before becoming a classic film of the 1950s.
It’s not a work of genius, but it is a good courtroom drama with a surprise at the end. How could the BBC possibly have made such a mess of it, as it did in its TV version last week?
The answer is simple. The BBC cannot leave the past alone, but does not understand that it was really different from the present.
It thinks that if it shows enough characters smoking, and shoots everything in a sort of gravy-stained dingy light, it has recreated the 1920s.
I think I counted seven people lighting up cigarettes in the first two minutes. After that, I stopped counting in case I got cancer.
I also spotted characters, plainly supposed to be reporters, smoking in court during an Old Bailey trial, which in the real 1920s would have earned them a spell in the cells for contempt of court.
Having done this, it made most of the characters (including a cat) behave and speak as if they were appearing in EastEnders.
A knighted barrister unhesitatingly used the f-word. The police were shown as thugs who arrested a suspect by bursting in on him without a warrant and beating him with truncheons, even though he was asleep in bed. Nobody seemed to know the law of England.
Lawyers blatantly and unlawfully coached witnesses. The only Christian (of course) was a plain, sour, repressed lesbian with a secret passion for her mistress, who was then wrongfully hanged.
A cat was lingeringly shown licking up its dead owner’s blood. A character who had been gassed in the war was shown coughing up yet more blood. No doubt this is all much more modern and ‘truthful’ than the 1957 film version.
But it is also much worse, and the portentous music and pretentious camera work only underline that.
The BBC licence fee is not collected under the threat of imprisonment to allow people to indulge themselves in this way.