Murder is Easy review: BBC Agatha Christie adaptation ticks the boxes but fails to charm

The two-part drama premieres on BBC One on Wednesday, 27 December

David Jonsson as Luke Fitzwilliam in Agatha Christie's Murder Is Easy. (BBC)
David Jonsson as Luke Fitzwilliam in Agatha Christie's Murder Is Easy. (BBC)

Agatha Christie's work will always be timeless, and the BBC are adapting another classic story of hers for the small screen: Murder is Easy.

Released on 27 December, Murder is Easy feels right at home nestled in the blurry festive period between Christmas and New Year's where entertainment is needed but doesn't have to be memorable because the show is just that, forgettable. The story opens with Luke Fitzwilliam (David Johnsson) arriving in England from Nigeria, preparing for a new job when he meets Miss Pinkerton (Penelope Wilton) who tells him of a series of suspicious deaths in her sleepy village only to be killed herself.

Fitzwiliam, feeling a sense of duty to Miss Pinkerton, decides to head to her hometown to investigate. There he is met with suspicion and disdain by the local residents who insist that every person that drops dead in front of them met with an unfortunate accident (and the fact there are a lot of those is not suspicious at all).

Murder is Easy (BBC)
Morfydd Clark as Bridget in Murder is Easy (BBC)

There's an array of Christie suspects to choose from, including curious former secretary Bridget (Morfydd Clark), her out-of-touch fiancé Lord Whitfield (Tom Riley), the initially cold Major Horton (Douglas Henshall), and the morally reprehensible Dr Thomas (Mathew Baynton) who all, at one point, appear suspicious. It's a typical Christie murder mystery, one that should make for a delightful viewing experience but ends up feeling rather drab and uninspiring.

Read more: Everything to know about Agatha Christie's Murder is Easy

Some viewers may turn their nose up at the casting of David Jonsson as Luke Fitzwilliam, but the series has adapted the story well to explain the actor's casting, altering the detective's origins in a way that is understandable to the time period and doesn't feel forced. Fitzwilliam is no Poirot or Miss Marple, though, and the character is written as a less than competent sleuth in a script that gives little for Jonsson to do but stare into the distance with a thoughtful expression.

Murder is Easy (BBC)
Mathew Baynton as Dr Thomas in Murder is Easy, one of the many suspects in Luke Fitzwilliam's investigation. (BBC)

Jonsson's co-stars fair no better, with each feeling like a caricature of a Christie character rather than a well-rounded suspect for viewers to question. Some of the cast try their hardest to make the most of their time onscreen, Clark and Baynton being the standouts of the drama, but even their performances are unable to elevate the show beyond anything more than an average whodunnit.

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The issue is not so much the story but the way in which it is told, with the script lacking substance or any of the charm of other more successful adaptations of the Queen of Crime's work. It feels like the two-part drama is simply ticking the boxes of what should make a Christie adaptation, rather than embracing the tension and charm necessary to make viewers care what takes place onscreen. Even the show's big reveal seems lacklustre and out of place.

Murder is Easy (BBC)
Douglas Henshall as Major Horton in Murder is Easy. (BBC)

Murder is Easy could have kickstarted a new, lesser known Christie detective's dominance of the small screen, but the drama struggles to make a mark. While it is a perfectly average murder mystery there is little to keep viewers engaged with it, and it is unlikely to do more than just become a distant memory.

  • 📺 Where to watch Murder is Easy: BBC One on Wednesday, 27 December and Thursday, 28 December at 9pm. It will also be available on BBC iPlayer

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 3/5

  • 🍿 Watch it if you liked: Poirot, Miss Marple, Midsomer Murders.

  • 🎭 Who's in it?: David Jonsson, Morfydd Clark, Mathew Baynton, Douglas Henshall, Tom Riley, Penelope Wilton.

  • How long is it? Two one-hour episodes.

  • 📖 What’s it about? A chance meeting with Miss Pinkerton prompts Luke Fitzwilliam to investigate a series of accidental deaths in the English countryside, where he must use all his wits to reveal how they were murders and who was behind them.

Watch the trailer for Murder is Easy: