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The Witness for the Prosecution is a television adaptation based on the short story and play of the same name by British author Agatha Christie, developed by the BBC for Christmas 2016.


Set in 1920s London, a brutal and bloodthirsty murder has stained the plush carpets of a handsome London townhouse. The victim is the glamorous and 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 McIntyre stands by in court. Leonard however, is adamant that his partner, the enigmatic chorus girl Romaine, can prove his innocence. Tasked with representing Leonard is his solicitor John Mayhew and King's Counsel, Sir Charles Carter KC.



Episode One (December 26, 2016)[]

Witness for the prosecution ep

In 1920s London a murder, brutal and bloodthirsty, has stained the plush carpets of a handsome townhouse - the victim is the beautiful widow Emily French. All evidence points to Leonard, a dashing young chancer who seduced the older woman into leaving him her vast fortune before ruthlessly taking her life. At least, this is the story that Emily's distraught, devoted housekeeper Janet stands by in court. Mayhew, a penniless solicitor, is put in charge of Leonard's case. Initially treating the suspect with indifference, Mayhew is gradually moved by the young man's case. Leonard is certain that his innocence can be proved by his wife, the enigmatic chorus girl Romaine. The entire case rests on her alibi, and Mayhew is reassured to learn that she witnessed Leonard return at 9.30, the time when he supposedly murdered Emily. Will she testify and save her husband, or will his infidelity make her vengeful?

Episode Two (December 27, 2016)[]

Witness for the prosecution ep

Romaine, whose testimony was the one hope to save Leonard from the gallows, has turned on him, leaving Mayhew's case hopeless and Leonard's fatal verdict imminent. Nonetheless Mayhew's firm belief in Leonard's innocence spurs him on with a steely conviction. Mayhew desperately tries to discredit Romaine and even to lay the blame on Emily's obsessive housekeeper Janet, whose word is the bulwark of evidence keeping Leonard behind bars. His efforts stall, leaving Mayhew on the verge of defeat. But there is another, shadowy player in this vicious game, one who turns the entire case on its head and changes both his and Leonard's life forever.

Main Characters[]

Image Name Actor
TWFTP character Mayhew John Mayhew Toby Jones
Burdened by poverty and guilt, John Mayhew lives a grey and passionless existence. Leonard’s case changes everything for this exhausted solicitor. His personal connection to the young man fires Mayhew with an unexpected determination to fight for him - to stop at nothing to prove Leonard's innocence.
TWFTP character Romaine Romaine Heilger Andrea Riseborough
A child of the First World War, Romaine Heilger emerges from the depths of the European bloodbath an ingenious survivor and afraid of nothing. At heart a loner, this Austrian singer’s enigmatic allure commands attention wherever she roams. Romaine is destined to enter the limelight sooner or later…
TWFTP character Leonard Leonard Vole Billy Howle
Haunted by his time at the front, Leonard Vole has been spat out of the war restless, disillusioned and incapable of settling on a job. A friendless innocent in a corrupt world, the odds stacked against him. Leonard is accused of a brutal murder, and only one person can save him from the noose…
TWFTP character Janet McIntyre Janet McIntyre Monica Dolan
Devoted to the point of possessive, Emily French’s loyal housekeeper has an uncanny ability to pre-empt her mistress’s practical as well as emotional needs, suggesting a bond that surpasses a platonic master-servant relationship. However, Janet’s carefully controlled universe is challenged with the arrival of Leonard Vole.
TWFTP character Emily French Emily French Kim Cattral
Though Emily is a glamorous and staggeringly wealthy widow, she is bored. Used to getting exactly what she wants, she glides through the London high life, indulging in champagne, raucous nightclubs and meaningless affairs with her favourite pastime: younger men.
TWFTP character Alice Alice Mayhew Hayley Carmichael
Stifled by years of repressed emotion, Alice has as much verve and vigor as the grey meals she makes for her husband John's dinner. Haunted by the memory of her son who died at war, Alice's few, precious moments of happiness are spent in his bedroom - left perfectly intact from the moment he left.
TWFTP character 07 Sir Charles Carter KC David Haig
Though Sir Charles enjoys a hearty lunch, this wealthy barrister salivates even more at the prospect of arguing sensational crime cases. He considers Leonard’s case to be a lost cause, until he finds out just how wealthy Leonard will be if he’s proved innocent.

Tropes and Themes[]


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 Field, Great 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).

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