Evil Under the Sun is the first episode of series 8 of Agatha Christie's Poirot and was first broadcast on 20 April 2001. The feature-length episode is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name. It was directed by Brian Farnham, and the screenplay was written by Anthony Horowitz.
Poirot collapses while dining at Hastings's new Argentinian restaurant. The doctor diagnoses obesity! Miss Lemon sends him with Hastings for a rest cure at the Sandy Cove hotel but, as usual, Poirot cannot avoid being dragged into yet another case. Among his fellow guests is Arlena Stuart, a beautiful and vain woman who, seemingly oblivious to her own husband, revels in the attention of the also married Patrick Redfern. When she is found strangled on the beach, the Detective cannot resist and sets about investigating.
Comparison with Original Story
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
- The characters of Carrie and Odell Gardener, Inspector Colgate and Dr Neasdon are omitted.
- The characters of Captain Hastings, Inspector Japp and Miss Lemon are included into the story. Hastings provides assistance in the case; Japp is the investigating officer; Miss Lemon makes inquires into Alice Corrigan's murder at Poirot's request.
- The hotel is a health retreat known as the Sandy Cove Hotel. Poirot is mainly there to recover from ill health, after collapsing during the opening night of Hasting's new restaurant; when the case is completed, it is revealed his collapse was from food poisoning caused by the poor standards of hygiene at the restaurant.
- Linda Marshall is changed to a son called Lionel. He is found to be reading a book about dangerous chemicals and poisons, but he doesn't attempt suicide in the course of the investigation. The witchcraft subplot featuring Linda in the original is not used. Lionel does not do anything in the episode directed at harming Arlena.
- Christine does not make a claim that she has a fear of heights; this detail is omitted. She does apply the fake tan and throws out the bottle containing it before she leaves to join Lionel and it almost hits Miss Brewster. This is like in the original novel except that in this case the bottle lands on the grass near the stairs and not in the sea. Poirot is able to find a fragment.
- Hastings replaces Mr Gardiner as the fourth person at the tennis game.
- Patrick Redfern takes out a boat and invites Emily Brewster (he earlier invited Poirot who turned him down). Redfern and Brewster discover the body of Arlena just like in the original.
- In the book, a pipe stolen from Captain Marshall is placed near the bottom of the ladder in an attempt to incriminate him. In this adaptation, Lionel's spare spectacles is planted instead.
- There is an additional side plot featuring a stock broker Nathan Lloyd who is heard asking Arlena for money. There is also a telegram telling her to send money or else she would lose a great deal. Although this sounded threatening, Poirot surmised that being American, Nathan's "great deal" meant a great business deal.
- Captain Marshall doesn't have a proper alibi in this case because no one saw him typing.
- Japp comes over to investigate. Miss Darnley mentions there is a cave and takes Japp, Poirot and Hastings there. Japp discovers a box containing heroin. Poirot also sniffs some perfume which is the same perfume that Arlena uses.
- Major Barry has a larger role in this adaptation as he turns out to be a home office investigator. He helps apprehend Horace Blatt as well as his accomplices who come over to the island posing as birdwatchers. The plot element of Blatt's boat having red/white sails is also used. Here it is explained that the red sails signal to his accomplices that heroin has arrived while the white sails signal the all clear.
- The vicar has a larger role in the adaptation. He does come from Blackridge, Kent. Poirot is thus reminded of the Alice Corrigan case in Blackridge. He calls Miss Lemon to go to Blackridge to investigate. At the denouement, the vicar is able to recognise Patrick Redfern from having seen him in the room during the inquest.
- David Suchet as Hercule Poirot
- Hugh Fraser as Hastings
- Philip Jackson as Chief Inspector Japp
- Pauline Moran as Miss Lemon
- Michael Higgs as Patrick Redfern
- Tamzin Malleson as Christine Redfern
- Louise Delamere as Arlena Stuart
- Tim Meats as Stephen Lane
- Marsha Fitzalan as Rosamund Darnley
- Carolyn Pickles as Emily Brewster
- David Mallinson as Kenneth Marshall
- Russell Tovey as Lionel Marshall
- Ian Thompson as Major Barry
- David Timson as Horace Blatt
- Rosalind March as Mrs Castle
- Paul Ready as William
- Rebecca Johnson as Gladys Narracott
- Guy Vincent as Barman
- Roger Alborough as Chief Constable Weston (as given in the credits) - actually the character calls himself Chief Inspector Charles Weston
- Kevin Moore as Coroner
- Jason Davies as Nathan Lloyd
- Kenneth Gilbert as Mr Applegood
- Lawrence McGrandles Jr. as Simon Kelso
- Grant Gillespie as Jack Lovett
- Harriet Eastcott as Librarian
- Andrew MacBean as Waiter (as Andrew Macbean)
- Steve Bennett as Policeman
- Andrew Ashby as Officer
- Laurence Richardson as Hotel Guest (uncredited)
- Burgh Island, Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon, England, UK
- Hambleden, Buckinghamshire, England, UK - Blackridge scenes