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BBC’s new Poirot story ‘is turned into anti-Brexit propaganda’ by writers

The novel includes a handful of references to Poirot being dismissed as a ‘blasted foreigner’, but the drama amplifies the xenophobia

It’s a conundrum to tax even the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot: why has the BBC included so much racial tension in its adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic The ABC Murders when it barely features in the original novel?

The prime suspect is the drama’s avowedly pro-Remain writer Sarah Phelps, who has admitted a desire to explore parallels between the rise of fascism in the UK during the 1930s, when the novel is set, and the culture of Brexit Britain.

As a result, the plot of the three-part drama includes Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and several scenes in which the Belgian detective, played by John Malkovich, suffers racist abuse.

But the additions have incensed Christie experts who believe her work has been hijacked.

Laura Thompson, the author’s biographer, said: ‘The ABC Murders is a stunning book and is incredibly atmospheric.

‘Why does anyone feel the need to do more to it? Some of the changes sound awful. It’s like everyone who is a Brexiteer has to be shown the error of their ways.’

It's a conundrum to tax even the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot: why has the BBC included so much racial tension in its adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic The ABC Murders when it barely features in the original novel

It’s a conundrum to tax even the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot: why has the BBC included so much racial tension in its adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic The ABC Murders when it barely features in the original novel

Professor John Sutherland, from University College London, added: ‘I am driven to wonder how elastic Christie’s novels are.

‘The novel, as I recall it, is one of the most interesting studies of serial killing. Fascism seems to me to be well off the stage.’

The prime suspect is the drama’s avowedly pro-Remain writer Sarah Phelps, who has admitted a desire to explore parallels between the rise of fascism in the UK during the 1930s, when the novel is set, and the culture of Brexit Britain

The prime suspect is the drama’s avowedly pro-Remain writer Sarah Phelps, who has admitted a desire to explore parallels between the rise of fascism in the UK during the 1930s, when the novel is set, and the culture of Brexit Britain

Regarded as one of Christie’s finest works, The ABC Murders centres on the hunt for a killer who targets victims in alphabetical order. 

The novel includes a handful of references to Poirot being dismissed as a ‘blasted foreigner’, but the drama amplifies the xenophobia.

In one scene, Poirot is told by a police officer: ‘People don’t like it when the force are made to look like halfwits by a foreigner. It’s out of step with the public mood.’

In another, the Belgian confides to a friend that he has received a letter telling him to ‘p*** off, Froggie’, adding sorrowfully: ‘Nineteen years I have lived here and people still think I am French.’

Several scenes feature either fascist posters or slogans, and Poirot is startled by a knock on the door from a neighbour wearing a fascist symbol.

Ms Phelps is a vocal critic of both Brexit and the Tories.

In a tweet on Tuesday, she described leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg as ‘a f****** psychopath’. 

A day later she attacked the Government over migration, writing: ‘I’m f****** sick of this. Every time the PM or anyone trots out this b******t line about taking back control of our borders, it is a complete untruth because we have always had control of our borders.’

In a recent interview to promote the TV drama, Ms Phelps said: ‘Hercule wasn’t born in Britain, but made Britain his home during the First World War. In the 1930s, things were very much like they are now. The British Union of Fascists started to gain real traction in a really shocking way that people don’t know about.

‘The language of it is exactly the language of Brexit and Trump. It’s all the same. Economically everything falls apart, with divisions sown and the people looking for a scapegoat.’

Christie herself distrusted the Common Market that Britain joined in 1973. ‘She thought it sounded contrary to how human beings functioned,’ Ms Thompson said, but added: ‘I think she would have probably been a reluctant Remainer.’

Regarded as one of Christie’s finest works, The ABC Murders centres on the hunt for a killer who targets victims in alphabetical order

Regarded as one of Christie’s finest works, The ABC Murders centres on the hunt for a killer who targets victims in alphabetical order

The author’s estate co-produced the adaptation, which starts on Boxing Day. 

A spokesman said: ‘Christie was writing this at the beginning of 1935, which was a difficult and heady time for Britain and Europe, so you don’t have to dig too deep to find the modern parallels of this story.

‘This was not made as any sort of political statement, but the contemporary relevance makes for all the more absorbing viewing.’

The BBC declined to comment.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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