The nation has been tuning in and having their say on the latest Agatha Christie adaptation that began tonight.
And keen-eyed viewers will have spotted some familiar Gloucestershire locations when The Pale Horse started its two-part run on Sunday at 9pm.
Because film crews descended on a Cotswolds village last year which was turned back to the 1960s for the drama which stars Rufus Sewell and Kaya Scoledario.
The Cotswolds village of Bisley near Stroud became the fictional village of Much Deeping where Christie’s original novel is set.
The Bear Inn provided the setting for The Pale Horse, the pub where a trio of alleged witches are said to have plotted a number of deaths.
Filming took place over three days last September.
Crews were based The Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol and used several locations for the two-part drama, produced by Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Limited.
Various places in Bristol were used for 1960s London, including Frogmore Street and Cave Street doubling as the East End.
Denmark Street stood in for the Soho district and properties overlooking St Nicholas market were brought to life as period police station interiors.
Queen’s Square doubles as a Chelsea apartment block and Clifton Village’s picturesque West Mall became the King’s Road.
Ashton Court Estate and Arnos Cemetery also feature prominently
Further afield, filming took place at Sheldon Hall near Chippenham and the picturesque Chew Valley, with assistance from Bath Film Office
The second and final part of the series will be on Sunday, February 16 at 9pm.
Some twitter reaction:
- I’m loving #palehorse . Some witty lines from #SarahPhelps
- I reckon Christie wrote this during that time when she went missing. Also, I think I’ve figured it out.
- Really not sure about this adaptation of #palehorse. Can’t put my finger on why am not loving it yet.
- I’ve never really enjoyed the overly-obscured, deliberate, nature of Christie’s plots. One can read Holmes and deduce the events in most cases. There are rarely sufficient clues available in Christie.
- “The Pale Horse” is boring! And I love the book.
- What’s going on #palehorse @FredrikSewell topless and more twists than a 2 litre bottle of coke
- Is every 1960s set BBC drama filmed in Bristol these days?
- The Pale Horse seems to have mixed the 30’s with the 40’s with the 50’s …..
- Dr Who, Call the Midwife, Pale Horse. Great TV night
- Not a clue what’s going on, but Rufus Sewell has had 4 topless scenes in 26 minutes so far…Not that I’m complaining #PaleHorse
- It’s The Straw Man meets Macbeth but the scariest thing in Pale Horse is Rufus Sewell’s cheekbones
- I’m frightened by the Pale Horse, I will never sleep now, let alone have a bath or go to a fate in Much Deeping
Who is in the cast?
Mark Easterbrook, Rufus Sewell
Inspector Stanley Lejeune, Sean Pertwee
Hermia Easterbrook, Kaya Scodelario
Zachariah Osborne, Bertie Carvel
Jessie Davis, Madeleine Bowyer
Thomasina Tuckerton, Poppy Gilbert
Yvonne Tuckerton, Claire Skinner
Bella, Rita Tushingham
Writer: Sarah Phelps
Director: Leonora Lonsdale
Producer: Ado Yoshizaki Cassuto
Production Company: Mammoth Screen
Production Company: Agatha Christie Productions Limited
What the series adapter says:
Bafta-nominated writer Sarah Phelps says: “Written in 1961, against the backdrop of the Eichmann Trial, the escalation of the Cold War and Vietnam, The Pale Horse is a shivery, paranoid story about superstition, love gone wrong, guilt and grief.
“It’s about what we’re capable of when we’re desperate and what we believe when all the lights go out and we’re alone in the dark.”
The Pale Horse marks the fifth Agatha Christie adaptation penned by Sarah Phelps, following previous titles And Then There Were None, The Witness for the Prosecution, The ABC Murders and Ordeal by Innocence.
London, 1961. Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell) has everything a man could dream of – he’s rich, successful and popular, with a beautiful new wife (Kaya Scodelario) and perfect home.
But scratch beneath the surface and he’s still grief-stricken by the loss of his first wife Delphine (Georgina Campbell). When Mark’s name is discovered on a piece of paper in a dead woman’s shoe everything starts to fall apart for him.
Why did Jessie Davies (Madeleine Bowyer) die, why is Mark’s name on a piece of paper in her shoe, and who are the other names on the list?
Detective Inspector Lejeune (Sean Pertwee) interviews Mark and mentions that the names Tuckerton and Ardingly were also on the list. Mark has a connection with Thomasina Tuckerton and David Ardingly – and Thomasina is also dead…
As Mark tries to work out why he is on the list and what it means, everything seems to lead back to the village of Much Deeping.
His first wife, Delphine, visited the area on the day of her death. Much Deeping seems to be an idyllic English village, but it is also a place of old traditions and strange beliefs, a place of witches, curses and spells.
Jessie’s employer Zachariah Osborne (Bertie Carvel) tells Mark that witchcraft played a part in Jessie’s death, which Mark angrily rejects.
But then he is sent a mysterious corn dolly. As more people named on the list are found dead, Mark starts to fear for his own life and sanity.
Mark is consumed with paranoia, fearful that his life is at risk and that the perpetrator is someone known to him. Mark feels his own death treading on his heels, breathing down his neck. To make matters worse, Detective Inspector Lejeune seems to be increasingly suspicious of him, and Mark feels even more alone.
He’s determined to find a rational explanation because there has to be one – this is the 1960s not the Dark Ages. Past and present collide for Mark as his investigations uncover the ties between Delphine and the trio of ‘witches’ (Sheila Atim, Kathy Kiera Clarke, Rita Tushingham) at Much Deeping, putting his relationship with second wife Hermia under great strain.
Terrified, Mark becomes hell-bent on uncovering the nature of the witches’ powers and their work at The Pale Horse.
With each passing day, each disquieting moment, each tormented, terrifying night, Osborne’s beliefs seem less fantastical and more plausible. Mark starts to believe in the craft, in the dark arts, in the witches’ peculiar skills. If they are truly as powerful as they seem, can they save him from his nightmares, before whoever wants him dead catches up with him? How far will he go to save himself?
What does Rufus Sewell say?
Tell us the story of The Pale Horse.
The Pale Horse is actually an old village pub where three women who are rumoured to be witches live. There are a series of deaths that are inexplicable until they seem to be brought together by a list of names found in a dead woman’s shoe.
Mark’s name is on this list with a question mark after it, and he doesn’t know why. In his past he lost his first wife and that haunts him. When she died he remarried very quickly after which was his way of coping with grief. That is certainly how some of his friends see it. This is the story of tracking down what’s behind these murders, why they’re connected and how and why they are connected to him.
What drew you to the script?
It has a viciousness to it, a dry, witty nastiness which appealed to me. It also has a surprisingly dark turn. In terms of genre, it’s a little bit indistinct.
You may think that it’s one thing, and it may or it may not turn out like that. I was really surprised by where it went.
I’ve always loved watching Agatha Christies and I’d never made one, so I was delighted to have the script sent to me.
What’s it been like to be transported back to 1961?
England in this period is new to me – it feels like a different world. It’s an exciting period to explore with great suits!
It’s interesting for me because I come from a very different background to Mark and I really enjoyed slipping into that.
I often find myself playing characters like this when the truth is so very different.
Why should people tune in to The Pale Horse?
It appears to do everything it says on the tin, but look closer and it is breaking the mould.
It’s set in hip London of the early 1960s which I don’t think audiences ever really associate with this genre or Agatha Christie, so it’s familiar yet strange.
What I’ve always loved about Agatha Christie is the misfits she writes; she creates these wonderful, central characters who are both odd and so wonderful.
Who made the series?
The Pale Horse is a Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Limited drama for BBC One. The executive producers are Sarah Phelps, Damien Timmer and Helen Ziegler for Mammoth Screen, James Prichard and Basi Akpabio for Agatha Christie Limited and Tommy Bulfin for BBC.
What else have I seen the cast in?
Rufus Sewell (The Man In The High Castle, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel)
Kaya Scodelario (Crawl, Extremely Wicked and Shockingly Evil And Vile)
Bertie Carvel (Doctor Foster, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell)
Sean Pertwee (Gotham, Elementary)
Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Killing Eve, Indian Summers)
Poppy Gilbert (Call The Midwife)
Madeleine Bowyer (Black Mirror)
Ellen Robertson (Snowflake)
Sarah Woodward (Queens Of Mystery)
Georgina Campbell (His Dark Materials)
Claire Skinner (Outnumbered)