System.InvalidOperationException: Sequence contains no elements
   at System.Linq.Enumerable.First[TSource](IEnumerable`1 source)
   at ASP._Page_Views_Partials_ContentBlocks_nodeTitleSlide_cshtml.Execute() in c:\hostingspaces\dstv.co.za\wwwroot\Views\Partials\ContentBlocks\nodeTitleSlide.cshtml:line 187
   at System.Web.WebPages.WebPageBase.ExecutePageHierarchy()
   at System.Web.Mvc.WebViewPage.ExecutePageHierarchy()
   at System.Web.WebPages.WebPageBase.ExecutePageHierarchy(WebPageContext pageContext, TextWriter writer, WebPageRenderingBase startPage)
   at Umbraco.Core.Profiling.ProfilingView.Render(ViewContext viewContext, TextWriter writer)
   at System.Web.Mvc.Html.PartialExtensions.Partial(HtmlHelper htmlHelper, String partialViewName, Object model, ViewDataDictionary viewData)
   at Our.Umbraco.DocTypeGridEditor.Web.Extensions.HtmlHelperExtensions.RenderDocTypeGridEditorItem(HtmlHelper helper, IPublishedContent content, String editorAlias, String viewPath, String previewViewPath, Boolean isPreview)
   at ASP._Page_app_plugins_doctypegrideditor_render_doctypegrideditor_cshtml.Execute() in c:\hostingspaces\dstv.co.za\wwwroot\App_Plugins\DocTypeGridEditor\Render\DocTypeGridEditor.cshtml:line 28
   at System.Web.WebPages.WebPageBase.ExecutePageHierarchy()
   at System.Web.Mvc.WebViewPage.ExecutePageHierarchy()
   at System.Web.WebPages.WebPageBase.ExecutePageHierarchy(WebPageContext pageContext, TextWriter writer, WebPageRenderingBase startPage)
   at Umbraco.Core.Profiling.ProfilingView.Render(ViewContext viewContext, TextWriter writer)
   at System.Web.Mvc.Html.PartialExtensions.Partial(HtmlHelper htmlHelper, String partialViewName, Object model, ViewDataDictionary viewData)
   at ASP._Page_Views_Partials_grid_editors_base_cshtml.Execute() in c:\hostingspaces\dstv.co.za\wwwroot\Views\Partials\Grid\Editors\Base.cshtml:line 20

The Pale Horse is the fifth and latest of writer-producer Sarah Phelps’ stylish adaptations of Agatha Christie murder mystery novels, following And Then There Were One (2015), The Witness For The Prosecution (2016), Ordeal By Innocence (2018) and The ABC Murders (2018).

The Pale Horse was a contemporary crime thriller when it first published in 1961. And aside from the central mystery, it takes on a range of social issues from time – the clash between old, countrified Britain and the new swinging ’60s, and the growing push for women’s rights, embodied in both the series’ three witches and in its dodgy male lead, Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell), who seems to have a fatal effect on the ladies in his life.

In 2020, its blend of ’60s chic and dowdy country clothes (which still have that Mend And Make Do vibe left over from the post WW2 era) gives it the charm of memory. All the better for its unearthly and vicious plot to sneak up on you unawares.

Stream BBC First live on DStv Now

What’s the story?

Even if you’ve read the novel, there are so many unexpected twists that it will lead you about in a bit of a fog. Widowed and unhappily remarried to frosty new wife Hermia (Kaya Scodelario), Mark is drawn back to the country village of Much Deeping where his late wife Delphine (Georgina Campbell) had visited when his name crops up on a list found in a dead woman’s shoe. There are other names on the list, too – like Mark’s lover, Thomasina (Poppy Gilbert), and most of those people are already dead.

Mark’s investigation brings him to the attention of Much Deeping’s three “witches”, psychic medium Sybil Stamfordis (Kathy Kiera Clarke), occultist Thyrza Grey (Sheila Atim) and rumoured local witch Bella Webb (Rita Tushingham), who together run the Pale Horse Inn where Mark is staying undercover during his investigation. The list of names turns out to have something to do with a betting ring with fatal consequences. Just wait ’til you see how Mark decides to test it out!


Step inside the wardrobe

The clash between town and country is obvious from the moment that Mark pulls up into Much Deeping in his sleek London suit on the day of the local Lammas Fair (a harvest ritual dating back to medieval times), which sees locals solemnly marching around town dressed like yokels in smocks and the kind of clothes your grandad does the gardening in, with eerie wickerwork animal heads on some and sackcloth scarecrow masks on others.

“I was fooling about online, as you do when you’ve got a deadline, and I was looking at all these rituals surrounding bread and harvest. I’m also really interested in the nastier rituals around sewing, ploughing and harvest,” reveals Sarah.

“I was just thinking about that and how you could weave those darker practices and rituals into the story of Much Deeping and came across this photo of a Lammas celebration and came up with this idea of trying to make a king out of bread and things like that. And then everything really took off and it seemed to really unlock the story. I was looking up all the different kinds of rituals of people wearing masks made out of straw. Absolutely terrifying! I fell really in love with that.”


Series director Leonora Lonsdale adds, “I really liked the idea in the script that you have Mark’s world, which is full of glamour, sexiness and fun, but underneath is this terrible past he hasn’t dealt with, and there are these witches in it. It seemed there was enormous scope to have fun visually. My costume designer, Charlotte Mitchell, just went mad for it and was bringing in animal masks, creating them herself and designing different costumes.”

“With Mark Easterbrook and Hermia, I had to conform, because they definitely conformed to the values of 1961,” says Charlotte (who’ll be taking the reins in S2 of Killing Eve). “I wanted to show Mark’s world as not necessarily sinister but just a bit cold. So I used a steely, icy colour palette to express that. We even threw in a bit of an American feel to differentiate them from the witches in the village. I put more interesting textural colours into the clothes of the villagers. The whole premise behind the costume design and the story is rural English post-war life versus the more modern Americanisation that’s coming into the city.”

For Charlotte, designing on the show meant truly understanding the era. “I’ll read about what was going on at the time; not just the clothes, but what else was going on, to understand why fashion was going that way. Because fashion always reflects what’s happening in society,” she says.


image

The Pale Horse S1 starts on Sunday, 7 June on BBC First (DStv 119) at 20:00


Searching for something stylish?

Try these three shows in June

image

Killing Eve

Darkly funny spy drama Killing Eve centres on the mutual pursuit between ex-MI5 agent Eve (Sandra Oh) and her target, assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer), who becomes obsessed with Eve. Villanelle’s one great pleasure is her wardrobe, and she uses fashion to seduce, control, disarm and kill. This is dressing to kill at its finest.

Watch S1 on Wednesdays on FOX (DStv 125) at 20:45 or watch on Catch Up


image

Project Runway

This season of fashion design reality show Project Runway features designers, including newish workroom mentor and judge Christian Siriano, who’ve dressed real-life red-carpet celebrities. It’s an eye-opening look into how cutting-edge fashion becomes commercial, with a reality show time twist that swiftly unravels designers’ best intentions.

Watch S18 from Wednesdays on 1Magic (DStv 103) at 19:00 or on Catch Up


image

Riviera

Costume designer Emma Fryer cuts no corners in showing the lives of the super villainous, super rich on France’s Côte d'Azur. They’re fully togged out in top-level designer gear. “It’s a really important element of Riviera,” says Roxanne Duran, who plays one of the series’ leads, Adriana Clios. “It helped us understand that they live their lives to excess. The costumes are so exquisite. Wherever she is in the world, Emma keeps discovering new pieces. Whenever we are together and see glamorous clothes in the shops, we say to each other, ‘That is so Adriana!’” Emma adds that “the clothes are the key to informing the audience who the character is.”

S2 starts on BBC First (DStv 119) on Sunday, 28 June at 20:00 


And look out for...

  • Binge the entire Sex And The City S1 on Catch Up
  • Take a vintage break when you watch 1970-set drama series American Soul S2 on Thursdays on BET (DStv 129) at 21:30
  • And get all your most up-to-the-minute fashion and designer content on Fashion One (DStv 178)
How to watch The Pale Horse online

Sign up for DStv Now. It’s no extra cost for DStv subscribers! With DStv Now, the same channels you watch on your decoder at home are available for you to stream online or using the DStv Now app on your phone.

Download and watch later

Get the DStv Now app (Apple or Android) and download episodes to watch on your phone or tablet – just remember to connect to the Wi-Fi first so there are no surprise data costs.

Get it on Google Play