And Then There Were None: No Costumes, Anyway!


And Then There Were None is a 2015 BBC three-episode TV miniseries. Set in the 1930s, it’s an adaptation of an Agatha Christie mystery novel. This version stars Aidan Turner (Poldark), Charles Dance (The Jewel in the CrownGame of Thrones), Anna Maxwell Martin (The Bletchley CircleDeath Comes to PemberleySouth Riding), Sam Neill (My Brilliant CareerLa révolution françaiseThe Piano), and Miranda Richardson (Black-Adder IIEnchanted AprilSleepy HollowThe Young Victoria, and so much more). We recently got to see it stateside, and it’s a period film, so we should discuss it, right?

Well, except for the fact that it’s totally un-costumey! Meaning, everybody is in very appropriate for the 1930s clothing, but nothing stands out in the least.

The good news is that I found the plot absolutely riveting. Eight people are invited by a couple they’ve never met to stay at a house on THE most atmospheric tiny island off the Devon coast. A local fellow boats them over, and then they’re cut off from the mainland.

There’s a wide range of characters…

Two servants are already on the island (a butler and housekeeper), and they’re joined by:

And Then There Were None (2015)

A young, rich, cad

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An eminent judge

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A secretary and former governess

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A police detective

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A famous general

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A persnickety woman

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A doctor

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And an adventurer.

Their hosts are delayed, and so the 10 are left to fend for themselves as a storm blows in, both literally and figuratively … I don’t want to talk any more about the plot because I was on the edge of my seat, and I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it!

Okay, to be fair, the costumes — designed by Lindsay Pugh (Dancing on the Edge) — were absolutely appropriate to the setting, story, and characters. There’s just nothing shiny, aside from some guys in nice suits!

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A perfect range of daywear for the 1930s.

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Miranda Richardson’s character is frumpy, Anna Maxwell Martin plays a housekeeper, and Maeve Dermody — the obvious choice for anything shiny in that she’s youngish and female — plays a secretary, shows up in some nice-ish suits but goes quickly downhill from there.

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This suit was great. I love the color mixing, and the shape of the collar and jacket hem.

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Another nice day suit on Vera.

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Vera’s evening dress. Perfectly appropriate to her character.

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But eventually, we all end up like this.

There are a few flashbacks showing her in some smart beach wear:

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Chic yet casual.

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Red lipstick makes anything fabulous.

While this show is decidedly un-shiny when it comes to costumes — okay, Aidan Turner follows in Adrien Brody’s manly footsteps in rocking the towel:

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It is, however, total Art Deco house porn. The exteriors are super atmospheric:

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The interiors are totally amazing. Apparently it was filmed at Harefield House, which is outside London. Clearly it was done up in the 1930s, because nearly every room is just picture perfect for the era in terms of decor.

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In the end, I highly recommend And Then There Were None. The acting is good, the locations are perfect, the costumes are totally appropriate to the story and characters — they’re just not the least bit flashy. Watch it on a stormy night with the lights out!


What’s your favorite pre-war murder mystery?


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

11 Responses

  1. Bea

    Where the hell are the trees?
    A house like that deserves some trees.

    • Kendra

      It’s on a windswept island just offshore of Devon, so not too many trees would be there!

  2. Readerly

    I’m sad how Toby Stephens with that mustache appears to be aging into Tom Selleck. This role doesn’t do justice to Toby Stephens’ supreme hotness.

  3. Cassidy

    Ooh, I didn’t notice the lovely topstitching on the collar of her jacket when I watched it!

  4. Lyn

    This is an Agatha Christie story, done many times, but I did like this adaptation because of the sheer volume of talent involved.

    However, I’m sorry Aidan: that’s a 21st Century body, not something that would have been seen in the 30s (actually anywhere other than the last 30 years, unless it was at the body building gym).

    • Janette

      That is exactly the issue i have with Jamie in Outlander. I keep thinking 21stC body builder not tough 17thC Highlander.

    • hsc

      I’m sorry, but some guys actually did have bodies like that back in the 30’s. A good number of actors were that level of muscularity, as were a lot of athletes and manual laborers.

      That’s not a “bodybuilder” level body– then or now– just an athletic body.

      I’m not sure what the backstory on Turner’s character is, but he’s described as an “adventurer” above, so he may have engaged in a fair amount of physical activity.

      But hey, at least his body hair wasn’t obviously “manscaped”, like Jeremy Piven’s chest was in his shirtless scenes as “Mr. Selfridge”.

  5. Karlie

    We were able to see it on BBC, and I immediately thought “I need that suit!” The purple and green are fabulous. I’m assuming it would be wool suiting? A few of the guys have linen but a can’t imagine that first day suit is anything but woollen.