In BritBox’s delightful new three-part docuseries, Alan Carr’s Adventures With Agatha Christie, comedian/television personality Alan Carr takes viewers across the United Kingdom as he uncovers everything there is to know about Agatha and her widely adored characters.
Alan graciously sat down with That Shelf to share his unforgettable experience making the series, visiting historic Agatha Christie landmarks and the fascinating things he learnt about the revered mystery writer.
Who Is The Real Agatha Christie?
Everyone wants a good mystery, and no one has been a more prominent pioneer for the genre than the esteemed novelist Agatha Christie. Christie has sold over two billion copies of her 66 mystery novels, which is impressive enough without mentioning the hundreds of films, television shows, and theatre experiences spawned from her work.
As many fans of the mystery genre did, Alan discovered the author’s work at a young age and was instantly captivated by the stories she’d created. Whether it was the dignified detective Hercule Poirot or gossipy amateur sleuth Miss Marple, there isn’t a soul on Earth unexposed to Agatha Christie. Still, that doesn’t mean people know who Agatha really was.
When people think of Agatha Christie, as Alan discusses in the interview and series, they often picture the iconic “black-and-white photograph of an old woman with grey hair.” Alan was also guilty of this when he started his expedition. To his surprise, he quickly discovered that Agatha Christie lived a thrilling life full of intrigue, romance, heartbreak, and hobbies, which included “rollerskating, wild swimming, surfing, and flying planes,” to name a few. Alan embarked on this journey to show the world “a different side of her,” and with information like this, he indeed does.
At one point, Agatha became a mystery herself after she supposedly disappeared in 1926, or so everyone thought. “That was actually the thing I was most excited about, but it’s not as mysterious when you do some delving.” Without much entertainment variety in the 20s, the media couldn’t resist spinning a story where the most famous mystery writer in the world finds herself in one of her thrilling stories. However, what happened to Agatha in December 1926 was much less newsworthy. After her mother passed away and her husband left her, she went to the one place anyone with that much on their plate would go; Agatha took “a cheeky little spa break up in Harrogate,” Alan reveals.
Oh, The Places Alan Will Go
In each episode of Alan Carr’s Adventures with Agatha Christie, Alan focuses on Agatha herself, Poirot, and Miss Marple to discover more about who she was, her favourite places, and the inspirations she drew from them. Alan points out that some of the locations Agatha enjoyed were quite luxurious and filled with incredible history. “The access we got, like going to her house in Dartmouth, meeting her family, and going through her private photo albums, notebooks- I was pinching myself.” He even saw Agatha’s toilet, which she infamously brought everywhere.
Another dream experience Alan participated in was visiting Agatha’s favourite cinema in a medium-sized town in Devon, England, named Paignton. Agatha was born in Devon and was known to frequent the Paignton Picture House. Fans of her work may also recognize it as the ‘Gaiety Cinema’ from several of her novels.
When Alan visited the Paignton Picture House, he describes it as a step back in time. “If people watch [Alan Carr’s Adventures With Agatha Christie], they’ll see they’ve done up the cinema as it would be in her day. I got to sit in her seat where she would sit to watch the film… it’s just my favourite time in history.”
There are plenty more famous Agatha Christie locales Alan visits throughout the series, but instead of describing them, you’ll have to watch it or plan a trip to see them yourself. If the Devon Board of Tourism is reading this, please give Alan some of the money he rightfully deserves.
It’s Agatha Christie’s World, And Were Living In It
While Agatha passed away in 1976, she still has significant influence over the mystery genre in literature and multiple film and television industries. From Hollywood, Kenneth Branagh has done a lot to bring Agatha back into public conciseness; his most recent Christie adaptation is A Haunting in Venice, based on Christie’s novel, Hallowe’en Party. In the UK, Alan describes how there’s “a brand new Agatha Christie story on television almost every week with new twists and nuances… And, she’s now embraced immersive theatre” Adaptations of The Mouse Trap and Witness for the Prosecution are some of the most successful shows in London’s West End, and Alan stops by both productions during the series for a special look.
Outside of fiction, Agatha has undoubtedly had a hand in the world’s fascination with true crime. “You just know if she were around today, she’d be watching all those Netflix [series] with the serial killers. [Agatha] used to be a bit of a Magpie as well. She would take things and use them for her plots. She definitely used current affairs and murders that were in the newspapers and used a few elements of that. If there were a murder with a poisoning, her new book would come out with a poisoning in it, [because] she knew people would buy it. [Agatha] was a very good businesswoman.”
While not everyone sits down in the morning with tea and a copy of Murder on the Orient Express or Sparkling Cyanide, there’s no denying Agatha’s mass popularity and influence in crime literature/on-screen entertainment. Alan made the most of his adventures with Agatha. Because of it, audiences get great insight into the non-fictitious version of Agatha Christie and why she’s still so relevant today.
At the start of the interview, Alan takes a moment to thank Agatha Christie, and rightfully so. “Agatha Christie has not only given me hours, or literally days of entertainment, she was also my little gateway author into reading other books as well. I just think she’s amazing.” There’s no doubt this statement is true for so many lovers of literature.
Learn more about Alan Carr’s Adventures With Agatha Christie in That’s Shelf’s entire conversation with Alan below.
All three parts of Alan Carr’s Adventures With Agatha Christie are available to stream now on BritBox.