Industry newcomer David Jonsson makes history as the lead in Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder is Easy’

David Jonsson as Luke Obiako Fitzwilliam in ‘Murder is Easy’. Picture: BBC/Mammoth Screen/Mark Mainz

David Jonsson as Luke Obiako Fitzwilliam in ‘Murder is Easy’. Picture: BBC/Mammoth Screen/Mark Mainz

Published Apr 8, 2024


If you enjoy a good whodunit, then you will enjoy Agatha Christie’s “Murder is Easy” on BritBox.

When it comes to crime dramas, the British have delivered some real gems over the years à la “Vera”, “Midsomer Murders”, “Endeavour”, “Grantchester”, “Father Brown” and “Sister Boniface”, to mention a few.

This time around, the lead is an industry newcomer, David Jonsson. Cast as Luke Obiako Fitzwilliam, he is a Nigerian attaché on his way to Whitehall when he meets the mysterious Miss Pinkerton (Penelope Wilton) on a train.

She informs him of a series of deaths in the village of Wychwood-Under-Ashe, suspecting a killer on the loose only to, not long after, become a victim.

As such, Luke is determined to unmask the murderer before he strikes again.

The young actor who started his career in West End was excited to bag the role.

He said: “First of all, this has got to be the most excited my mum’s been about me doing a job, ever. Agatha Christies mean more than just a regular murder mystery.

“They’re a British institution – they bring people together and encompass a lot of what it means to be British.

“It was great to read a script that felt not only new and fresh with an interesting mercurial character but also brings in a whole new culture that we’ve never seen in an Agatha Christie before.

“Having a black hero felt incredibly fresh and exciting to me. I feel very privileged that I’m able to do that.”

Expanding on his character and how viewers are first introduced to him, Jonsson said: “You find him on his way to England for the first time with a certain job in mind and he’s got his life mapped out ahead of him, which quite swiftly gets derailed by an encounter with a stranger.

“He meets a lovely older lady called Miss Pinkerton and she quite quickly charms him. I think just by her natural energy, which is quite infectious, but she’s also got information about a number of horrible deaths, which she thinks were murders, but have been brushed off as accidents, in her tiny English village.

The cast of ‘Murder is Easy’. Picture: Supplied

“I think out of a certain moral compass, Luke is naturally taken to it and then, without giving too much away, something quickly happens which forces him into action, following her trail to catch a murderer.”

Shedding light on Luke’s past, he said: “Luke is from Nigeria. He is in a senior-ranking position in the military there. He’s an attaché to the British Colony, essentially. And he is doing quite well there but, of course, he’s coming to London to kind of ‘better’ himself.

“He’s got a job at Whitehall waiting for him. So that’s why he finds himself in England.”

But his plans are derailed after his encounter with Miss Pinkerton and he finds himself at her village to solve the murders.

On what makes the Agatha Christie stories such a hit with viewers, he said: “I really do think Agatha Christie was a brilliant writer. She knocked out some crackers that not only meant a lot at the time but were completely applicable to where we are now.

“I think that’s why people continue to find them and enjoy them. I think that’s a testament to Agatha Christie herself. We all know there’s a murderer. We all know someone’s going to die. We know the tropes of it, but it’s how it’s executed and what we learn from it.

“So, I think with this particular one, it’s really doing something that feels first-time-y. I think the estate has done a really good job of trying to push it and find good writers like Siân (Ejiwunmi-Le Berre), who’s done a great job of adapting this, and great directors like Meenu (Gaur), who’s not afraid of making it a bit different.

“But I think Agatha Christie really does sit up there with Shakespeare, Webster, you know, all those British writers that we always come back to and make fresh because the stories are just so simple but so good. So relatable and human.

“It’s no wonder that we can watch it and not feel like it’s old or irrelevant.”

On the story being injected with a fresh energy by having a female screenwriter and a female director helm a story that is set in a world where women are socially constrained, he added: “Yes. I think there’s something interesting about that. We’ve got a female writer and a female director.

“And the story, in particular with Morfydd Clark’s character, Bridget Conway, looks at the role of women in society. I do think that it’s just a testament to the production team behind this not being afraid of what was already there but also elevating it and making it something that feels not just relevant but human.

“ I don’t think it’s any wonder that my mum really loves Agatha Christie even though, until now with me, I don’t think she was properly represented.

“But she still finds herself inside it. So, I think what immigrants, black British people, can really look forward to is feeling maybe a little bit more represented in this without it being a thing … you know it’s still Agatha Christie.”

With the two-part series set in the 1950s, class is a talking point as well.

Jonsson added: “I reckon class is a big thing in ‘Murder is Easy’, and I think it’s wonderfully examined. Class at this particular time was very clear. You had the upstairs, you had the downstairs and you had a service to help people who were ‘more’ than you.

“Whereas maybe nowadays it’s not as clean cut. But you also had a character like Luke Fitzwilliam who came over from Nigeria, from a well-to-do family, who sold oil. But because he’s black, because he’s a person of colour, he would come over and probably relate more to the working class, the people who help out.

“And I love that because it shows that class doesn’t really mean anything. We’re just humans.”

As for whether this makes him a more effective detective, he said: “Absolutely. I think that’s exactly what makes him a good detective. He’s able to switch and relate to various people and find what makes them tick.

“He’s not afraid of humbling himself and that’s a trait I think a lot of people struggle with.”

With representation a huge talking point, the casting in the series proves that the wheels of change are turning in the industry.