Acorn Announces 2 New BBC1 Dramas for Agatha Christie's 125th Celebration Year
Acorn Productions Ltd today (Friday 28 February) announces that BBC1 has commissioned two significant new drama adaptations to bring Agatha Christie masterpieces to a new generation:
-- A new adaptation of And Then There Were None, Christie's most successful work and one of the best-selling crime novels of all time, will be written by Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations, BBC; Oliver Twist, BBC) produced by Mammoth Screen (Parade's End, Blandings, BBC; Endeavour, TV) in partnership with Acorn Productions and is slated for broadcast at Christmas 2015.
-- Meanwhile, crime-fighting duo Tommy and Tuppence will return to our screens in a 1950s-set six-part adventure thriller series called Partners in Crime, starring David Walliams as Tommy. This brand new adaptation will be produced by Endor Productions (The Escape Artist; Restless; State of Play; The Girl in the Cafe, BBC) in partnership with Acorn Productions and the first three episodes (TX autumn 2015) will be written by award-winning author, playwright and director Zinnie Harris.
These two major new BBC1 dramas are just part of an extraordinary raft of developments as RLJ Entertainment, of which Acorn Productions Ltd is a subsidiary company, reinvents the Christie brand across a range of platforms, bringing Christie -- the best-selling novelist of all time - to a new generation of crime fans.
Initiatives include a recently announced feature film (a star-studded re-make of Murder on the Orient Express from FOX produced by Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon and Simon Kinberg); Hidden Object tablet games, such as the 2013 release of Dead Man's Folly that has seen some 200,000 downloads in the first few weeks of release and an average rating of4.5 stars; and forthcoming announcements for West End theatre.
Meanwhile, Acorn Productions and Agatha Christie Ltd are investing heavily in keeping the Agatha Christie brand fresh and engaged with its audience. The new Agatha Christie website was launched in September last year as the definitive guide to Christie's stable of world-famous detectives, and a global HUB for a fan community across the world. Further phases are to be rolled out throughout 2014. Alongside this the official social media channels converse with a hugely international fan base, achieving an audience of close to 1.6 million and growing, on Facebook alone.
Hilary Strong, MD of Acorn Productions, said: "We are delighted to unveil these two major new dramas for BBC1. They are an integral part of our plans for the Christie brand and demonstrate the scale of our ambition at Acorn Productions Ltd for the portfolio of works that we own. With Christie's 125th anniversary next year, we are developing innovative new content on all platforms -- publishing, digital and theatre -- with new adaptations of her timeless stories.
"In addition to our publishing, digital and theatrical business, RLJ Entertainment is resourcing Acorn Productions to become a major player in British drama production. Our immediate access to RLJ Entertainment's US distribution network and funding means that Acorn Productions is ideally placed to produce or co-produce fresh new content for the UK, US and world markets."
Mathew Prichard, Chairman of Agatha Christie Limited and grandson of Agatha Christie said: "It is fantastic that, in her all-important 125th anniversary year, my grandmother is to be welcomed with such enthusiasm to the BBC: a wonderful new home for her much-loved characters and their stories, and one which she would be delighted with. The commitment to these productions from all those involved is great to see, and I've no doubt will result in compelling new adaptations, to be enjoyed by fans old and new."
Basi Akpabio, Creative Director of Acorn Productions, said: "The Agatha Christie estate has an extraordinarily deep well of stories and characters to work with and offers endless possibilities for creative renewal. And Then There Were None is Christie at her darkest and most frightening -- the ultimate justice meted out for secrets and crimes.
This promises to be fast-paced drama at its best and we're thrilled to be working with Mammoth Screen and writer Sarah Phelps. Meanwhile, Christie herself said that the books featuring amateur sleuths Tommy Beresford and Prudence Cowley were the ones she most enjoyed writing, so we are looking forward to collaborating with Endor Productions and Zinnie Harris to bring them to a whole new generation of fans."
Damien Timmer, joint Managing Director of Mammoth Screen, said of And Then There Were None: "We want this to be the definitive adaptation of one of the most strikingly original and influential novels of the 20th Century, and we're so pleased to have the extraordinarily talented Sarah Phelps writing the screenplay. And Then There Were None is arguably Agatha Christie's masterpiece, and it's a privilege to be bringing it to the screen."
Hilary Bevan Jones, co-founder of Endor Productions, said of Partners in Crime: "To reimagine the iconic Christie characters Tommy and Tuppence and their adventures for a new television audience is a fabulous opportunity for all of us at Endor. Our incredible creative team of David Walliams, Zinnie Harris and Claire Wilson are crafting a
drama that promises to be both thrilling and fresh."
David Walliams said: "In bringing these thrilling stories to the screen, it is our ambition for Tommy & Tuppence to finally take their rightful place alongside Poirot and Marple as iconic Agatha Christie characters. I was first drawn to the delicious notion of a married couple solving crimes together, and the more I read of the Tommy & Tuppence novels and short stories I realised they are among Christie's very best work."
Acquiring, licensing and distributing iconic brands to new audiences is part a major drive from the US entertainment mega-group, RLJ Entertainment, Inc. owned by Robert L. Johnson, to invest in British drama imports for North America and beyond.
"What we are doing with Christie is, itself, part of a growth strategy for RLJ Entertainment; now a one-stop-shop for development, production, licensing and distribution," explained Hilary Strong.