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BBC One and Mammoth Screen's adaptation of The Pale Horse 

Wed 29th Jan 2020

The Pale Horse is the latest Agatha Christie story to be adapted for BBC One by Bafta-nominated writer Sarah Phelps, and features a stellar cast...

Rufus Sewell plays Mark Easterbrook. He is joined by Kaya Scodelario as Hermia, Bertie Carvel as Zachariah Osborne, Sean Pertwee as Detective Inspector Lejeune, Henry Lloyd-Hughes as David Ardingly, Poppy Gilbert as Thomasina Tuckerton, Madeleine Bowyer as Jessie Davis, and Ellen Robertson as Poppy.

Sarah 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 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.

Series synopsis

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?

Pictured: Hermia Easterbrook (Kaya Scodelario), Inspector Lejeune (Sean Pertwee), Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell), Osborne (Bertie Carvel), Delphine Easterbrook (Georgina Campbell)