Kim Cattrall as Emily French

Emily French is the victim in The Witness for the Prosecution, she was a rich, lonely, old woman, without close family or friends, that befriended Leonard Vole, to the point of making him the principal beneficiary of her will.

With each adaptation comes changes in her age and her status which affects her character and Vole's motive.


Book[edit | edit source]

Miss Emily French is dead at the start of the story, John Mayherne is speaking to Vole about their relationship. He describes that he helped the old lady after she tripped in London, which afterwards results in a second meeting, which he becomes a regular at her house, a grand house in Crinklewood with her maid Janet McKenzie and 8 cats.

Vole claimed that she asked him to help her understand her financials but, McKenzie claims that she was confident with her business affairs. She changed her will and suggested to McKenzie that Vole was to marry her which Vole denied as she was well aware of Romaine. During the trial, the only thing Defence Lawyer could think about was her only known relative, a Nephew whom had badgered her for money before and was untraceable at any of his regular places at the night of the murder, but that is very weak and Romaine's "secret lover" is exposed Vole is freed. However Vole was guilty of killing Emily French.

1953 Play[edit | edit source]

In the Play once again French is talked in the past tense, added to the script is Leonard talking about how she saw him as a son rather than a lover, she took great delights in his projects and he did believe she could help him with funding it. However on the night of the murder with it being Janet's night off, Vole said he visited her at 7:45pm, played Double Demon and at 9pm he left for home, however at about 9:30pm McKenzie returned home for something, she heard French and who she claims was Vole chatting before hearing a crash and found French dead. Vole also claims not to know about her changing the will for his benefit saying that she was speaking to McKenzie when she suggested this.

1957 Film[edit | edit source]

With the additions of film, Emily is shown in a flashback during Vole's statement with Wilfrid Robarts, she and Vole go out she buys a awkwardly large hat and when they went to the cinema he sat behind her despite the hat making it difficult to view, she sees Vole's invention of a egg beater/separator and is delighted despite McKenize's distaste for it and Vole. As a addition for the film Emily is a widow and speaks of her husband.

She was played by Norma Varden.

1982 Film[edit | edit source]

For the television version the flashback scenes were deleted and instead French is seen in the intro when McKenzie goes to get her pattern, laughing to a unseen Leonard Vole before he kills her.

She was played by Patricia Leslie.

2018 TV Series[edit | edit source]

Emily French is presented as younger than the other versions, she was a War Widow that is sexually charged, she goes out despite the distaste of Janet McIntyre, she goes to a club filled with young men as Gigolos and Waiters, she is attracted to Leonard Vole who trips over with a tray of cocktails and despite him being fired, she takes him home with her. However despite McIntyre trying to put off Vole, French spoils him with new clothes and gifts which he repays sexually, McIntyre watches them make love but when she finds out about Romaine, she confronts Emily with it and French refuses to believe it, she had changed her will at this point and believes Janet wanted to get rid of Vole. When Janet left on her night out she didn't speak and gave Emily her supper. Emily French was beaten with a Brass Lamp, since Vole was seen by McIntyre, he was arrested, but when evidence proved that all the prosecution witnesses fell apart. However in change to what happened in the book Janet is found guilty after John Mayhew finds the body of French's cat Mimi dead, during the trial Mayhew sees in his vision of what happened, however after discovering that Vole is guilty Mayhew sees French's murder with Vole in place.

She was played by Kim Cattrall.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Emily French has been rewritten more than any character in Christie's universe, she was a elderly spinster in the book, she was a 50 something in the play and was a widow in all main screen adaptation.
  • In the book and play Emily has 8 cats but she had none in the 1957 and 1982 film and 1 in the 2016 series.
  • In the 1957 her middle name is Jane.
  • Her character in the 2016 series is based on real accounts of older women picking up younger men as seen in Noel Coward's The Vortex.
  • It is unclear how much money French has but clearly it's enough for Vole in the play and 1957 film to offer several characters a deal.
  • Kim Cattralll despite her US/Canadian accent is in fact British born.
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