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Everyone knows Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, but of her 66 novels and 12 short story collections, a good chunk of Agatha Christie’s crime adventures featured stand alone tales with different characters, and few will be as engaging as the pair being brought to life in a brand new Britbox three-parter.
Hugh Laurie has written and directed the new series Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? and might well be the biggest name attached.
But it’s the incendiary double act of Will Poulter and Lucy Boynton’s central leads who make this great mystery work, and propel the action forward with charisma and pizazz from the moment they first share the screen.
Poulter is former Navy lieutenant Bobby Jones who lives with his vicar dad in a rural Welsh coastal village and seems content with odd jobs around the town until his world is turned upside down with the discovery of a dead body near the local golf course.
As he sits with unidentified man during his final moments, he is suspicious of various factors at play, not least a shady passer by's involvement, and then gets caught up in a major intrigue when lies appear to be told at the inquest.
His life is properly thrown into chaos when his former childhood pal Lady Frances — Boynton — reappears full of fun, aristocratic boredom and genuine affection for him. When Bobby’s life seems to be under threat, she joins him to form an unlikely amateur detective team to solve the mystery.
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Laurie’s script draws a great picture of Christie’s classic Thirties village life, all cycling and horseback and vicars, and is filled with great characters all enjoying their own lives and stories until the narrative drags them in.
Watch a clip from Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
It’s fun and sharp, and the classic whodunnit twists and turns are satisfyingly delivered, but this is very much a journey rather than destination event.
Poulter’s Jones is a great protagonist, a self-effacing everyman and reluctant hero struggling to balancing dreams with responsibilities to family and friends, but it’s when he teams up with Boynton’s irrepressible and effervescent Lady Frankie that he really shines.
They are dynamite together, and their comic sparky dialogue is a delight as they can barely hide their feelings for each other while trying to solve a very serious case which threatens more than just their love lives.
They are surrounded by an ace ensemble including Sex Education’s Alistair Petrie, Conleth Hill, Daniel Ings, Morwenna Banks, Miles Jupp, Laurie himself in support, and his old pals Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent along to class up the joint.
The story itself — previously adapted into a 1980 film and co-opted for ITV’s Miss Marple in 2009 — is a well paced caper, and classic Christie fun.
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This is a really enjoyable, Sunday evening style box set mini-series that is well worth your time, so make sure to check it out for one of the best, if unlikeliest, sleuthing double acts in years.
Why Didn't They ask Evans? launches exclusively on Britbox 14 April
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