Hugh Laurie Invests Big In Own ‘Agatha Christie’ Passion Project

Hugh Laurie is beloved for his role in the hit TV show House, but the acclaimed actor is also a writer, director, and executive producer – and he is planning to do all of the above in an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? for Britbox. Whether or not Laurie will also act in the miniseries is still unknown. The series is slated to debut in 2022.

This limited series is the biggest of Britbox’s commissions to date – which is saying something considering their repertoire of period pieces. For his part, Laurie has been fascinated by Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? since childhood, so there’s no doubt that he will be bringing all of his considerable talents to the mystery.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

Agatha Christie is arguably the most popular mystery novelist in history – her novel And Then There Were None was published in 1939 and is still the best selling mystery novel of all time.

Published only five years before, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans may not be able to boast quite that level of fame, but the mystery has certainly captured Hugh Laurie’s attention:

“The hairs on the back of my neck haven’t properly settled down from the first time I grasped the beauty of the essential mystery. Since then, I have fallen deeper and deeper in love with the characters, and feel immensely honoured to have been given the chance to retell their story in this form,” he said. “I will wear a tie on set, and give it everything I have.”

In the book, Lady Frances Derwent and her friend Bobby Jones go looking for a stray golf ball. Instead, they discover a dying man, who only has time to say the titular line, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?” This fateful event turns the two into amateur detectives, as they try to unravel the mystery.

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Although there is no official word yet, it’s likely that the series will be similar to the source material, given how passionate Laurie is about the mystery and its characters.

James Prichard, CEO of Agatha Christie Limited, seems to agree: “Hugh has brought his own inimitable style and flavor to this work, whilst at the same time being faithful to the original.”

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Hugh Laurie Brings Prior Expertise

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? may be Laurie’s first major TV drama where he will be both the writer and the director (as well the executive producer) but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t bring a lot of experience to all of those roles.

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It’s no surprise that Hugh Laurie is best known for his acting career. Not only does he have over 100 credits, he is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most-watched leading man on TV for his role as Dr. House. However, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans is far from Laurie’s first time as a director, writer, or executive producer.

Before Laurie was known as a pill-popping genius doctor, he was primarily a comedic actor. He was a writer for both Alfresco and A Bit of Fry and Laurie, comedy sketch and variety series that Laurie starred in. Laurie is also a best-selling novelist. In 1996, Laurie released a spy spoof titled, The Gun Seller.

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The last time Laurie directed an episode of TV was actually on his hit show, House, which he stated was something that he had been interested in for a long time:

“I have been absolutely fascinated by the process of it,” Laurie told the New York Times, “It requires the rarest and most demanding set of skills, from problem solving to engineering, and common sense.”

Laurie was an executive producer on House, but that is not his only experience in this role. Among others, has also helmed the acclaimed series The Night Manager, which he starred in alongside Tom Hiddleston. Like his new project, The Night Manager is an adaptation of a novel by a famous writer (John le Careé.)

BritBox and Agatha Christie

Last year, BritBox made a deal with the Agatha Christie estate to house the most comprehensive Agatha Christie adaptation collection available to stream in the US.

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“As the home of great British mysteries, we couldn’t be more proud to be the true home of the most beloved portrayals of Christie’s famous characters,” said BritBox president and CEO Soumya Sriraman.

This niche streaming service has not only been spending top dollar to have a monopoly on Agatha Christie, though. Since 2017, they have been commissioning original programming and co-productions such as The Pembroke Murders starring Luke Evans and There She Goes starring David Tennant – so Hugh Laurie will be in good company.

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Sources: Deadline, IMDB, PBS, New York Times, Mediaplaynews

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