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BBC ONE orders Agatha Christie’s The Witness For the Prosecution; Acorn Media Enterprises joins as U.S. co-production partner

Silver Spring, MD, June 20, 2016: This major adaptation for BBC ONE of Agatha Christie’s classic title The Witness For the Prosecution is adapted by Sarah Phelps (And Then There Were None, The Casual Vacancy, The Crimson FieldGreat Expectations), directed by Julian Jarrold (The Crown, The Girl, Appropriate Adult,) and co-produced by Mammoth Screen (Poldark, And Then there Were None, Remember Me, Parade’s End) and Agatha Christie Productions (And Then There Were None, Partners In Crime).

Following the success of last year’s three-part thriller And Then There Were None, BBC ONE have ordered The Witness for the Prosecution, a new two-part adaptation by Sarah Phelps of Agatha Christie’s 1925 short story of the same title. One of Christie’s most celebrated titles, it was later turned into a successful stage play and a much loved film (1957) directed by Billy Wilder.

Acorn Media Enterprises, the development division for the Acorn brand of RLJ Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: RLJE), secured all U.S. rights as well as secondary rights in Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

1920s London. A murder, brutal and bloodthirsty, has stained the plush carpets of a handsome London townhouse. The victim is the glamorous and enormously rich Emily French. All the evidence points to Leonard Vole, a young chancer to whom the heiress left her vast fortune and who ruthlessly took her life. At least, this is the story that Emily’s dedicated housekeeper Janet Mackenzie stands by in court. Leonard however, is adamant that his partner, the enigmatic chorus girl Romaine, can prove his innocence.

CEO of Agatha Christie Limited and executive producer Hilary Strong said: “With And Then There Were None, we reminded viewers just how brilliant Agatha Christie’s plotting is and just how modern her stories could be. We are delighted to be working with Mammoth Screen and Sarah Phelps again to deliver another iconic title for the BBC and our international co-production partners Acorn Media Enterprises and A+E Studios. With The Witness for the Prosecution, Sarah has worked her magic on Christie’s timeless story. Combining Sarah’s brilliance with the excellent and skilful eye of our director Julian Jarrold, we expect to deliver a show that will thrill both audiences who have enjoyed Christie’s work before and those who are coming to it for the first time.”

Writer Sarah Phelps said: “With the long terrible shadow of the Great War falling across the rackety, feral 1920s, The Witness for the Prosecution is a compelling story of deceit, desire, murder, money and morality, innocence and guilt, heartbreak and most painful and dangerous of all, love.  At the centre of this dark and tangled net is the astonishing character of Romaine, a noir heroine for all our times.”

Mammoth Screen Executive Producer Karen Thrussell added: “And Then There Were None made a huge impact last year, garnering great reviews and audiences of over 8 million. We’re thrilled to be reunited with Sarah Phelps as she takes on another iconic title, an incendiary courtroom drama that will keep you guessing right to the very end. The source material is so strong, and we hope the end result will be every bit as striking as And Then There Were None.”

President of Acorn Brands at RLJ Entertainment Mark Stevens noted: “We are thrilled to continue to be the home for Agatha Christie programs in the U.S. including Partners in Crime and the Emmy®-nominated final episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and excited about working with Agatha Christie Limited, the BBC and Mammoth Screen on this exciting new production which will premiere on Acorn TV in the U.S.”

The Witness for the Prosecution is a Mammoth Screen/Agatha Christie Productions drama for BBC ONE, in association with Acorn Media Enterprises/Acorn TV and A+E Studios. The executive producers are James Prichard and Hilary Strong for Agatha Christie Productions, Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, Sarah Phelps and Matthew Read for the BBC.

Acorn Media Enterprises/Acorn TV Press Contact:

Chad Campbell,


Agatha Christie Productions is the production arm of Agatha Christie Ltd (ACL). Chaired by James Prichard, the author’s great grandson, and with CEO Hilary Strong, ACL has been managing Agatha Christie's literary and media rights globally since 1955.

Working with the biggest names in film, television, publishing, stage and now digital, ACL ensures that Christie’s work continues to reach new audiences in innovative ways and to the highest standard. Most recent projects include the global publication of the new Poirot novel ‘The Monogram Murders’ by bestselling crime writer Sophie Hannah, and BBC One adaptations of Partners in Crime starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine, and And Then There Were None. Upcoming projects include, Murder on the Orient Express. Five-time Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh will direct and star as Hercule Poirot in 20th Century Fox’s feature film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s acclaimed mystery.

Mammoth Screen is one of the UK's leading production companies making high quality, writer-led drama and comedy for broadcasters around the world. Forthcoming productions for BBC include a second series of (BAFTA winning) POLDARK (10 x 60’) for BBC ONE, NW (1 x 90’) for BBC TWO and THE CITY AND THE CITY (4 x 60’) for BBC TWO.

Also in production for ITV are VICTORIA (1 x 90’ and 7 x 60’) and ENDEAVOUR series 4 (4 x 120’). Other recent shows include AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, REMEMBER ME and BLANDINGS for BBC ONE, the award winning PARADE'S END for HBO/BBC TWO, BLACK WORK for ITV, AGATHA RAISIN for SKY 1 and TRIPPED for E4.

RLJ Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: RLJE) is an entertainment content distribution company in primarily North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Through Acorn Media Enterprises, its UK development arm, RLJE owns all rights to the hit UK mystery series Foyle’s War and is developing new programs. RLJE owns 64% of Agatha Christie Limited. With its popular OTT branded channels, Acorn TV (British TV) and UMC (Urban Movie Channel), RLJE targets distinct, premium audiences and Urban niche audiences. The company grows its proprietary digital channels through development, acquisition, and distribution of exclusive rights of program franchises and feature film content. In addition to its investment in Witness for the Prosecution, the company co-funded And Then There Were None and BBC television series Partners in Crime, co-produced by Agatha Christie Productions.

U.S. Premieres coming up on Emmy®-nominated streaming service Acorn TV:

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  • June 13: Award-winning biopic CILLA starring Sheridan Smith
  • June 20: Caitlin Moran’s comedy RAISED BY WOLVES, Series 1
  • June 27: VERY BRITISH PROBLEMS, Series 2 featuring James Corden, Catherine Tate and David Tennant
  • July 11: British period drama JERICHO starring Jessica Raine, Hans Matheson and Clarke Peters
  • July 18: Danny Baker’s British comedy CRADLE TO GRAVE starring Peter Kay
  • July 25: Feature-length movie MURDOCH MYSTERIES: A Merry Murdoch Christmas

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