The writer of the BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders has likened the rise of modern populism to that of fascism in post-First World War Britain.
Sarah Phelps, who wrote and executive produced the mystery drama, said it was “genuinely chilling” how similar today’s social climate is to that of the 1930s.
In the three-part miniseries, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (John Malkovich) finds himself facing hostility for being foreign, even after an illustrious and well publicised career.
— BBC One (@BBCOne) December 10, 2018
Phelps, formerly a script writer for EastEnders, said that in researching the drama she had been shocked to find how UK politics appeared to repeat itself.
Speaking at a pre-screening of the crime thriller, she said: “A character like that who hasn’t been born in Britain and has made Britain his home during the First World War. In the 30s things were very much like they are now.
“1933 was when the British Union of Fascists began to gain some real traction in a very shocking way, in a way that perhaps a lot of people don’t know about.
— Agatha Christie (@agathachristie) December 13, 2018
“It’s exactly the language of Brexit and Trump. The wordings on their posters are exactly the wordings of the research material I found. It’s all the same. We go round in circles.”
The British playwright, who also adapted JK Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy for television, said the discrimination faced by Poirot in the story had left her genuinely fearful.
She added: “Economically everything falls apart, then divisions are sown and people are looking for someone to blame, looking for a scapegoat.
“Guess who comes in for being scapegoated?
“Having been this celebrated Belgian detective, suddenly becoming just somebody from another country. It’s not a good thing to be.
You are in danger all the time, and that really taps into where we are now.
“Hopefully this will one day be over, or it will get worse. God knows, please god. It’s exactly the same language and exactly the same imagery.
“It’s genuinely chilling how similar it is.”
The cast of the adaptation also features Broadchurch actor Andrew Buchan, Twin Peaks’ star Eamon Farren and Game Of Thrones’ Tara Fitzgerald, alongside Dangerous Liaisons actor Malkovich.
The ABC Murders airs over three consecutive nights at 9pm on BBC1, starting on December 26.