‘Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?' You may well ask!
In recent months, fans of murder mysteries have been spoiled with some great detective stories brought to life on the screen. One of the highest profile was the classic 1934 Agatha Christie story, ‘Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?’ directed by megastar actor and musician Hugh Laurie. It premiered on Britbox in April 2022 and then moved on to ITVX with a three part drama minseries.
Knowing it had been years in the making, the WhoDunnit Dinners team couldn’t wait to see it! So did it meet our very high expectations..? Here are the scores on the doors from us. They may surprise you.
1. Credits and soundtrack
Coming from Mr Hugh Laurie, you would expect this to be a class act and we aren’t disappointed. Well-drawn animated characters being pursued by various ominous shadows and danger gets you right in the mood for the show. The upbeat theme tune Happy Hour by the Tin Hat Trio - an American three piece who specialise in contemporary jazz, folk, world and classical - is also very classy: a modern, quirky twist on 1930s style. A confident start. Listen to the theme tune here.
The casting is equally fabulous. The mesmerizingly beautiful, fearless Lucy Boynton (Bohemian Rhapsody) playing Frankie and charismatic Will Poulter (Chronicles of Narnia, Guardians of the Galaxy vol.3) playing Bobby, take on the leading roles. Faces you know but can’t name include Conleth Hill (Varys in Game of Thrones), Miles Jupp (The Thick of It, Rev) and Amy Nuttall (Downton Abbey) who are all excellent. The team also had a lot of fun casting Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson and Paul Whitehouse in very small but eccentric parts that suit them brilliantly. Paul Whitehouse, being the landlord of the Anglers Arms pub, as a nod to his own success in his fishing TV series, is a winning side joke.
3. Location and costume
As you would hope, the series looks suitably gorgeous. The windswept Three Cliffs Bay in the Gower, south Wales takes centre stage for the first murder. The village and stately home scenes were filmed on location in Surrey. Frankie, Lucy Boynton’s character has a fantastic array of hats, but somehow manages to look her best wearing jodhpurs and Bobby’s suit. As Bobby and his army friend buy and sell cars, the array of vintage cars are a delight: from Morris Eight Series to a 1937 S.S. Jaguar. It all looks wonderfully 1930s.
4. The will-they-won’t-they love story
Frankie and Bobby are old friends, but they are from very different stock. Frankie is an aristocrat, although she doesn’t play by the rules, and he is a clever vicar’s son who is recently back from war. She flirts from the start but he is far too straight laced and responsible to pick up on it. Bobby takes on the mantle of the protective elder brother, watching over the rather reckless Frankie. No spoilers here but in our view their relationship is pleasingly teasing for two and a half episodes and then takes a different turn in a disappointingly rapid and anti-climactic way.
5. Why didn’t they ask Evans?
The curiously titled story hinges around the question uttered by a dying man at the very start. Bobby and Frankie set out to find out the identity of the murderer and the mysterious Evans. This is handled brilliantly by Agatha Christie in the novel and was the very reason it is one of our very favourites of all the books that she wrote. But the TV adaptation spends so long on telling the bulk of the story - as they follow the clues to the murderer - that it leaves very little time to tie up the loose ends of the key question: Why didn’t they ask Evans? It is such a clever device and yet viewers we talked to were still musing as the final credits rolled: who and why? The result is an entertaining ending that manages at the same time to be deeply unsatisfying.