The Witness For The Prosecution is one of many TV and film adaptions based on the original Agatha Christie short story, based in London, August 1923.
Emily French (Kim Cattrall) is a wealthy woman with an embittered maid, Janet McIntyre (Monica Dolan) and a penchant for younger men, her latest dalliance being Leonard (Billy Howle), but the mood is somewhat soured with him being accused of her murder before too long, despite being at home with wife, dancer Romaine (Andrea Riseborough), but in a twisty-turny plot which never seems to stop gyrating, he’s also named as the sole beneficiary in Emily’s will. Plus, also cue in an early flashback to the end of the First World War when Leonard happens to meet Romaine on the battlefield.
John Mayhew (Toby Jones) is the solicitor to call for Leonard’s innocence whilst dealing with his own bad cough issues which he puts down to gas damages, and he’s backed up in court by David Haig as Sir Charles Carter, while the prosecution, including Tripp (Paul Ready), do their best to discredit the man with a view to seeing him hang.
Throw in lots of “Did he/Didn’t he?” in the opening court session and the first episode is a bit slow to get going, but there’s more meat to get stuck into with the second part, especially when the case continues. Since that’s not yet been broadcast, I’ll give no spoilers, so I’ll only say that I found it much more engaging. It’s rare that a mini-series improves the more it goes on – and another recent example was Rillington Place, but it’s also better than this one is showing over two nights rather than successive weeks.
Overall, The Witness For The Prosecution evokes the grim post-WWI period brilliantly and gives everyone named above a chance to hit home with fantastic performances.
Episode 1 Score: 6/10
Episode 2 Score: 8/10
Director: Julian Jarrold
Producer: Colin Wratten
Screenplay: Sarah Phelps (based on the short story by Agatha Christie)
John Mayhew: Toby Jones
Romaine: Andrea Riseborough
Leonard Vole: Billy Howle
Alice: Hayley Carmichael
Janet McIntyre: Monica Dolan
Emily French: Kim Cattrall
Christine Moffat: Miranda Nolan
Deveraux: Charles De’Ath
Detective Breem: Dorian Lough
Tripp: Paul Ready
Sir Charles Carter: David Haig
Sir Hugo Meredith KC: Tim McMullan
Justice Grenville Parris: Robert East
Clerk: Adam Jowett
Clifford Starling: Andrew Havill
Bernie: Ted Robbins
Dora: Carla Langley
Stage Hand: Reid Anderson
Policeman Keys: William Atkinson
Prosecution Barrister: Grant Crookes
Stage manager: Paul Dallison
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