The Incarnations of The Witness for the Prosecution

Over 90 years since it was first published, Agatha Christie’s shocking short story of lust and betrayal remains as popular as ever. The chilling tale has been reimagined for different mediums, entertaining audiences over many generations. Ahead of the latest TV adaptation airing in the UK on Boxing Day 2016, we look back at the evolution of Agatha Christie’s short story.

- The Witness for the Prosecution began life as a short story, first published as Traitor Hands in 1925; only five years into Agatha Christie’s career as a published author.

- The short story was first adapted into a radio play in 1949. Over fifty years later in 2002 it was adapted again for radio; this time in 2002 for BBC Radio 4.

- At the request of theatre producer Peter Saunders, Agatha Christie adapted the short story into a courtroom drama for the stage, called Witness for the Prosecution, which opened on the 28th October 1953 at The Winter Garden Theatre in London.

- During its run, Agatha Christie also had two other plays running in London, making her the only female playwright to have three plays running simultaneously in the West End; a feat still unbeaten to this day.

- In 1957 the play was adapted for the big screen starring Tyrone Power as Leonard Vole, Marlene Dietrich as Christie Vole and Charles Laughton as Sir Wilfred Robarts and directed by Billy Wilder.

- During previews of the 1957 film, test audiences were compelled to sign pledges saying, “I solemnly swear I will not reveal the ending of Witness for the Prosecution.

- The original short story has been adapted for TV four times, with the fifth TV adaptation written by Sarah Phelps, airing in 2016.

- When self-confessed Agatha Christie fan Kim Cattrall heard about the plans for the 2016 adaptation, she got in touch with Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Productions Ltd to see if she could be involved.

Go back to the roots of The Witness for the Prosecution and discover the original short story which continues to inspire and entertain audiences around the world.