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Rufus Sewell in The Pale Horse, Sat 20 Jun on ABC

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The Pale Horse Rufus Sewell

Another of the BBC’s excellent Agatha Christie adaptations reaches Australian screens on Saturday 20 June when the two part Rufus Sewell starring The Pale Horse makes its debut. When the thriller aired on the BBC earlier this year it, like all of the other adaptations, garnered quite a bit of press for the way that it plays fast and loose with certain aspects of the original story. To say more would be a spoiler…

The drama begins in London 1961. Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell) has everything a man can dream of: he is rich, rich and popular, with a beautiful new wife (Kaya Scodelario) and a perfect home.

But scratch under the surface and he is still saddened 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 begins to fall apart for him.

Why did Jessie Davies (Madeleine Bowyer) die and why is Mark’s name on a piece of paper in a shoe and who are the other names on the list? Inspector Lejeune (Sean Pertwee) talks to Mark and says that two other people he knows were also on the list and are dead.

While Mark tries to find out why he is on the list and what it means, everything seems to point to the village of Much Deeping and a hotel known as The Pale Horse. His first wife, Delphine, visited the area the day she died.

Much Deeping looks like an idyllic English village, but it is also a place of ancient traditions and strange beliefs, a place of witches, curses and spells. Jessie’s employer, Zachariah Osborne (Bertie Carvel), tells Mark that witchcraft played a role in Jessie’s death, which Mark angrily rejects. But then he gets sent a mysterious corn doll.

As more and more people on the list find themselves dead, Mark begins to fear for his life and health. Mark becomes paranoid, afraid that his life is in danger and that the culprit is someone he knows. Mark feels death on his heel and it’s breath on his neck.

Worse still, Inspector Lejeune seems to suspect him more and more, and Mark feels even more alone. He’s determined to find a rational explanation, because that’s how it has to be – it’s the 1960s, not the dark ages.

Past and present come together for Mark as his investigations reveal the connection between Delphine and the “witch trio” (played by Rita Tushingham, Sheila Atim and Kathy Kiera Clarke) in Much Deeping, as well as a more disturbing connection with his second wife Hermia.

Every day that passes, every disturbing moment, every tormented and terrifying night, Osborne’s beliefs seem less fantastic and more credible. Mark himself begins to believe in witchcraft, black art and special magic. If they really are as powerful as they seem to be, can they save him from nightmares before those who want to kill him reach him?

Agatha Christie: The Pale Horse Premieres Saturday 20Th June at 8.15pm on ABC.