The ABC Murders (2019 TV series)

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The ABC Murders
Series title against a background of twisted railway tracks
Based onThe A.B.C. Murders
by Agatha Christie
Written bySarah Phelps
Directed byAlex Gabassi
Composer(s)Isobel Waller-Bridge
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes3
Executive producer(s)
  • Basi Akpabio
  • James Prichard
  • Elizabeth Kilgarriff
  • Damien Timmer
  • Sarah Phelps
  • Helen Ziegler
Producer(s)Farah Abushwesha
CinematographyJoel Devlin
  • Simon Brasse
  • Rob Hall
Production company(s)
Original network
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
Audio formatStereo
Original release26 December (2018-12-26) –
28 December 2018 (2018-12-28)
External links

The ABC Murders is a 2018 BBC One mystery thriller television serial loosely based on Agatha Christie's 1936 novel of the same name. It was broadcast over three consecutive nights beginning on 26 December 2018. It was adapted by Sarah Phelps and directed by Alex Gabassi. It stars John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot, with Rupert Grint, Andrew Buchan, Tara Fitzgerald and Shirley Henderson in supporting roles.[1][2]

The series was released on DVD through Universal Pictures UK on 11 March 2019.[3]






Yorkshire played a key role in filming this adaptation, including Grosmont, Leeds, Pickering, Ripon, Saltaire, Skelton-on-Ure and Wakefield. Newby Hall in North Yorkshire is the mansion at Churston. The De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill-on-Sea is featured.[6]


No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
1"Episode 1"Alex GabassiSarah Phelps26 December 2018 (2018-12-26)[7]8.65[8]
Poirot has been receiving letters signed A.B.C., taunting him and predicting murder. According to them, the first is slated to occur in Andover on 31 March. Poirot visits the police to give them this information, but the letters' contents are dismissed by Inspector Crome, who has replaced the retired Inspector Japp, as an April Fools Day prank. Poirot seeks out Japp, but he suddenly dies in his presence. When Alice Asher is indeed found murdered, and quickly followed by Betty Barnard in Bexhill, Crome takes the letters more seriously. However, he refuses all offers of help from Poirot and confiscates his papers, believing that he knows the killer. Unbeknownst to Poirot and the police, a down-on-his-luck travelling salesman named Alexander Bonaparte Cust had met both victims prior to their deaths. A new letter arrives stating that the next location and victim will begin with the letter C, but Crome still refuses help from Poirot, stating his belief that Poirot lied about his credentials and therefore cannot be trusted.
2"Episode 2"Alex GabassiSarah Phelps27 December 2018 (2018-12-27)[5]7.03[8]
Poirot is given another letter from A.B.C. by a neighbour who received it in error. It states the next murder will be in the town of Churston. He telephones the home of Sir Carmichael Clarke to warn him, only to find he has already been murdered. Poirot realises that A.B.C. is killing in locations he has previously been to, when he discovers a newspaper clipping confirming he had helped deliver a baby on a train, that had stopped in Andover. Another letter indicates that Doncaster is the next location, with A.B.C. signing off "Giddy-Up". Crome and Poirot travel to Doncaster, with Crome believing the next murder will take place at the race track. In fact, the next victim is a ventriloquist named Dexter Dooley. However, A.B.C. mistakenly kills the wrong man.
3"Episode 3"Alex GabassiSarah Phelps28 December 2018 (2018-12-28)[9]6.93[8]
Cust awakens in the gents toilet in the train station at Embsay. He finds the body of another victim, Ernie Edwards, and that he is holding the murder weapon. He flees the crime scene, throwing the knife away along with his hat and coat. Poirot finds a pack of stockings in the victim's case and after visiting the sales company, identifies the murderer as Alexander Bonaparte Cust, who is soon arrested. After visiting Cust, who has a brain tumour and suffers from constant headaches, seizures and blackouts, and talking with him, Poirot doubts his guilt. Sir Carmichael's brother, Franklin, thanks Poirot for apprehending the murderer and has a brandy with him. He is subsequently arrested by Crome as his fingerprint, taken from the brandy glass, matches that on the typewriter in Cust's room. Poirot realises that Cust was being used by Franklin, who had set him up with the stocking salesman job. The first and second murders were merely covers for the murder of Sir Carmichael, so his brother could inherit his money, once Lady Hermione died of cancer. Franklin is hanged for the murders and in a flashback to Belgium during the war, it is established that Poirot was actually a priest, whose congregation was murdered in his church as part of the Rape of Belgium.


The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the series an approval rating of 70% based on 30 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "The ABC Murders liberally adapts the famed Agatha Christie mystery while retaining its thrilling spirit, thanks in part to the sly performance of John Malkovich, who inhabits Hercule Poirot with enough wizened panache to win over those who were skeptical of his casting."[10] On Metacritic, the film holds a weighted average score of 58 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.[11]

The Guardian gave the first episode four stars and praised Malkovich's performance.[12] The Times gave it four stars and found it enjoyable, also praising Malkovich.[13] Reviewing the finale, Metro praised Poirot's new backstory and declared it "mystery television at its finest".[14]


  1. ^ "All-star cast announced for new BBC One Agatha Christie thriller The ABC Murders". BBC Media Centre. 24 May 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "First-look image of John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot in BBC One's The ABC Murders". BBC Media Centre. 21 June 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Agatha Christie: ABC Murders [DVD]". Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "The ABC Murders Begins on BBC One on Boxing Day at 9pm". BBC Media Centre. 15 December 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b "The ABC Murders episode 2". BBC Programmes. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  6. ^ "The ABC Murders: An A to Z". Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  7. ^ "The ABC Murders episode 1". BBC Programmes. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  8. ^ a b c "Four-screen dashboard". BARB. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  9. ^ "The ABC Murders episode 3". BBC Programmes. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  10. ^ The ABC Murders
  11. ^ The ABC Murders
  12. ^ Mangan, Lucy (26 December 2018). "The ABC Murders review – John Malkovich's suffering Poirot is magnificent". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  13. ^ Midgley, Carol (27 December 2018). "TV review: The ABC Murders; The Midnight Gang". The Times. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  14. ^ Pearce, Tilly (28 December 2018). "The ABC Murders finale: Poirot's heartbreaking backstory revealed as killer is finally unmasked". Metro. Retrieved 5 January 2019.

External links[edit]