Three Christie Plays Discovered in the BBC Archive


A triple bill of original recordings of Agatha Christie plays, thought lost for half a century, has been unearthed in the BBC Archives.

Between 1947 and 1954, Agatha Christie was commissioned to write three entirely new and original dramas for BBC radio. Butter in a Lordly Dish, written specially for radio in 1948, features Richard Williams as Sir Luke Enderby KC, whose infidelities lead him into trouble when he goes to meet his latest flame. Williams also stars as Hercule Poirot in Murder in the Mews, a 1955 adaptation of a short story. A young woman is found dead in her flat, the day after Guy Fawkes night. Did she die by her own hand or someone else’s? In Personal Call, also written specially for radio, a disturbing telephone call from a woman names Fay has consequences for both Richard Brent and his wife Pam. This 1960 production starts Ivan Brandt and Barbara Lott.

It was assumed that all three of these Agatha Christie plays had gone the same way of most post-war radio drama when it was normal practice to destroy the masters without making any copies. For years, they were presumed to be irrevocably lost. But thanks to a co-ordinated effort by freelance audio producer Charles Norton and BBC Sound Archivist Sean Whyton the plays were located in a vast quantity of uncatalogued material that had recently arrived at the archives. Norton had an old catalogue dating from the 1960s which listed two of the Christie plays – when he asked Whyton to search out the library numbers in the unlikely event the plays had survived, they were astonished and delighted to discover not only Personal Call and Murder in the Mews but also Butter in a Lordly Dish.

Agatha Christie's grandson and Chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd, Mathew Prichard, said 'The Lost Plays are a magnificent discovery. The atmosphere of the time is captured wonderfully and the sound quality is crystal clear. The plays are vintage Christie and are a hugely important addition to the canon.’

The radio plays have been fully restored and will be published on 17th September to coincide with the 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth on the 15th September.

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