Timothy Spall joins Lesley Manville for Anthony Horowitz’s ‘Magpie Murders’ on PBS

Screenshot of Timothy Spall as David Irving from the film Denial.

While it was recently announced that Foyle’s War creator, Anthony Horowitz, would adapt his best-selling novel, Magpie Murders, as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series, at the time there was really no movement other than that given the on-again, off-again UK production coronavirus lockdown.

Things have begun to look up, however, as Magpie Murders goes into production next week in Suffolk and Ireland. Following the recent announcement that the brilliant Lesley Manville (Mum, Phantom Thread, World on Fire) would head the cast comes word that Timothy Spall (Summer of Rockets, Mr. Turner, Harry Potter, The King’s Speech) will join the series.

Manville will play Susan Ryeland, an editor who is given an unfinished manuscript of author Alan Conway’s latest mystery novel, with little idea it will change her life while Spall will portray the clever and complex detective Atticus Pünd.

Timothy Spall OBE, says “I am delighted to be part of this adaptation of Magpie Murders, and to be working once again with the immensely talented Lesley Manville , Peter Cattaneo, the fantastic cast and all the team at Eleventh Hour Films. I have huge respect for Anthony Horowitz and think the audience will really enjoy his brilliant adaptation of his wonderful and ingenious novel. I’m really looking forward to getting to grips with bringing the intriguing Atticus Pünd to life.”

Sounding equally as excited, Lesley Manville CBE, said, “Fans of Anthony Horowitz’s highly acclaimed, thrilling novel will be utterly delighted that it is being made into a 6-part drama. I could not be happier to be playing Susan Ryeland – what a fabulous character for me to grapple with!

Lesley Manville in Mum. Photo: Courtesy BBC

Lauded as “a magnificent piece of crime fiction” and “an ingenious novel within a novel” by the Sunday Times (London), Magpie Murders has topped multiple best-seller lists including the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and appeared on the year-end Best Books lists of NPR, USA Today and others. Its international awards include the prestigious Macavity Award for Best Novel.

Sounding equally as excited about their upcoming collaborative effort, Masterpiece EP Susanne Simpson said, “Anthony Horowitz is a master mystery writer, and Magpie Murders is a beautiful and complex work. Our Masterpiece audience will truly enjoy this intriguing story of a mystery within a mystery.

Horowitz who, besides creating Foyle’s War, has written for television including scripts for Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Midsomer Murders in addition to Murder Most Horrid and Robin of Sherwood, said: “Magpie Murders is my most successful novel and it wasn’t easy to adapt. But I think the result is a completely original drama that will delight and beguile audiences in equal measure.

Manville’s life is about to get pretty busy  and her CV a bit crowded as she will also star as Princess Margaret in the 5th and 6th seasons of Left Bank Pictures’ drama The Crown on Netflix. With casting for Magpie Murders announced and production set to begin next week, look for a 2022 premiere on PBS’ Masterpiece.


In: Mystery