This Agatha Christie is anything but easy viewing – one thing remains unchanged though, a collection of characters will find themselves caught at a remote stately home with a murderer in their midst.
Cornwall provided several stunning And Then There Were None filming locations as the backdrop to this chilling murder mystery.
The best-selling crime novel of all time is as good a place to start as any – Mammoth Productions and Agatha Christie Productions launched an annual ‘Christie for Christmas’ tradition for the BBC in 2015.
And Then There Were None set the tone for a new wave of country house mysteries which cut out the teatime cosiness of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.
Writer and producer Sarah Phelps hadn’t read any Agatha Christie novels before setting out to make the three-parter, and was surprised by what she found:
“When I came to read And Then There Were None I was startled and shocked to find that they were in fact brutal. There was a cold and witty mind behind them… instead of these being the parlour games of murder mysteries that I thought they were, that there was actually something else going on.”
As the eight guests and two servants of the elusive Owens succumb to grim fates in turn, the beautiful but isolated setting becomes terrifying.
Where Was And Then There Were None Filmed?
Christie’s novel is set on an island off the coast of Devon but for the three-part adaptation of And Then There Were None, the BBC turned to its neighbouring country – Cornwall.
Reaching down to the southwest tip of mainland Britain, Cornwall is renowned for its atmospheric coves and stunning beaches. For the BBC and Mammoth Productions, it’s also familiar territory.
Kynance Cove is used in the opening sequence of several of the ill-fated guests arriving by boat and stepping ashore.
We see Maeve Dermody as Vera Claythorne, Charles Dance as Justice Wargrave, Sam Neill as General MacArthur, Toby Stephens as Dr Armstrong and Burn Gorman as DS William Blore arriving at the shore along with Aidan Turner’s character, Philip Lombard.
In And Then There Were None’s beach filming location is also used for a very different scene involving Maeve Dermody and Aidan Turner’s characters, Vera and Lombard – look for it later in the miniseries, when the drama is reaching crisis point.
Lombard may be very different from Turner’s most famous character, Cornish gent Ross Poldark, but the actor didn’t get much of a change of scene when he filmed the thriller. Not only do both shows feature Cornwall extensively, they even share exact filming locations.
The same cove has appeared in Poldark where it looks its usual idyllic self and acts as an extension of the family’s home as Nampara Cove.
The good news for fans of either show is that many of the places seen onscreen including this one, are run by the National Trust.
In long shots and our first glimpses of the characters as they step onto the island, the uninhabited Mullion Island is used as Soldier Island.
The lone house was added in post-production, and at just a mile in circumference, the island is made to seem far larger onscreen – it also looks further out than the real half-mile which separates it from the shore.
The island is part of the Lizard Peninsula, which takes in the furthest reaches of Cornwall and is part of a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Mullion Island is even more carefully protected as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest for the bird species who have made their home there, so public access isn’t allowed.
However, you can visit its opposite number on the mainland, Mullion Cove. It encompasses a harbour, caves and coastal paths, all managed by the National Trust, which you’re free to explore. Note that the cove’s Atlantic waves can be dramatic in stormy weather – they’re beautiful but best viewed from a distance as they can reach dangerous heights, putting the harbour off-limits.
Harefield Grove Farm in Hillingdon, on the western boundary of London, provided the life-sized house filming location for And Then There Were None (a miniature was used for long shots).
Behind its stuccoed walls, Grade II-listed Harefield Grove’s rooms are a mixture of elegant period spaces, cellars and tunnels, modern office rooms and studios (the mansion house was previously used as a filming base for The Professionals).
Finally, the And Then There Were None railway filming location – the only location which is actually found in Devon, where the mystery is set.
Dating back to the 1870s, the South Devon Railway has revived itself as a heritage line and aims to recreate a 1930s to 1960s atmosphere, ideal for the Agatha Christie drama’s pre-WWII setting.
It’s another charming filming location that is worlds away from the chilling action onscreen. This heritage railway runs along the Dart Valley, passing the route of the River Dart, and offers nostalgic steam train rides on dates throughout the year as well as afternoon tea services and other treats. Much more civilised than life on Soldier Island!