Sarah Phelps is a British television screenwriter, radio writer, playwright and television producer. She is best known for her work on EastEnders, a number of BBC serial adaptations including Agatha Christie's The Witness For the Prosecution, And Then There Were None, Ordeal by Innocence, The ABC Murders and The Pale Horse; Charles Dickens's Great Expectations and Oliver Twist; and J. K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, and work with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Phelps has written over 50 episodes of EastEnders, including the return of Den Watts and his final demise, less than two years later. She wrote the screenplay for the BBC's 2011 Christmas costume drama adaptation Great Expectations and the World War One drama series The Crimson Field. The show was cancelled after one series due to middling ratings.
In 2015, Phelps' adaptation of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None was broadcast. Reviewing it for The Daily Telegraph, Tim Martin found that, "The final episode of this bloody adaptation by Sarah Phelps did splendid justice to Christie's lightless universe, presenting an isolated mansion full of leaking corpses, in which the characters – quite understandably – freaked out in ways that no previous adaptation has countenanced." Martin went on to note, "All this couldn't have been further from the teasing restraint of classic adaptations such as René Clair's celebrated Hollywood version from 1945. But Phelps's version felt closer both to the cruelty of Christie's original and to its dramatic intentions. Clair chose to sacrifice the book's murder-suicide conclusion in favour of a romantic clinch, while Christie herself had already ditched it for her stage adaptation in 1943. Phelps kept it in, and this brave decision allowed her adaptation to preserve its cheerless emotional contract with the viewer ... [C]lassily photographed in low light, moonlight and candlelight, and with strong performances from the weighty ensemble cast throughout, it made a strong case for Phelps (best known for her TV adaptations of Oliver Twist and Great Expectations) to be put on seasonal murder duty at the BBC every year."
In April 2018, another of Agatha Christie's novels adapted by Phelps was broadcast on BBC One. Ordeal by Innocence had been pulled from the Christmas scheduling on BBC one after one of the leading actors in the drama miniseries was accused of sexual assault. The programme was re-shot with a new actor, Christian Cooke, replacing Ed Westwick.
In June 2018 it was announced that the BBC were filming a Phelps adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ABC Murders starring John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot. In June 2019 it was announced that Phelps would write an adaptation of The Pale Horse.
|2003||Spine Chillers||1 episode|
|2003 2006||No Angels||3 episodes|
|2007||Oliver Twist||Mini-Series, 5 episodes|
|2011||Being Human||1 episode|
|2011||Great Expectations||Mini-Series, 3 episodes|
|2014||The Crimson Field||Creator, 6 episodes|
|2015||The Casual Vacancy||Mini-Series, 3 episodes|
|2015||And Then There Were None||Mini-Series, 3 episodes|
|2016-2017||Hooten & the Lady||Co-Creator 8 episodes, written by 1 episode|
|2016||The Witness for the Prosecution||Mini-Series, 2 episodes|
|2017||The White Princess||1 episode|
|2018||Ordeal by Innocence||Mini-Series, 3 episodes|
|2018||The A.B.C. Murders||Mini-Series, 3 episodes|
|2019||Dublin Murders||Mini-Series, 8 episodes|
|2020||The Pale Horse||Mini-Series, 2 episodes|
Phelps' radio work includes Vital Signs II, Cardamom, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and The Compass Rose: A Tattoo Lexicon. Phelps also wrote for the World Service Soap opera Westway before joining the BBC in 2002. Her theatre projects include Tube, Angela Carter, The Subtle Art of Boiling Lobsters, Amaretti Angels and Modern Dance for Beginners.
- "10 Questions for Screenwriter Sarah Phelps". theartsdesk.com. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- "Great Expectations meets BBC's high hopes thanks to young actor Douglas Booth". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- "The Crimson Field axed by BBC, 'gutted' writer Sarah Phelps confirms". The Independent. 11 June 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- "Sarah Phelps, interview for the Casual Vacancy: 'JK Rowling and I saw eye to eye'". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- "And Then There Were None - BBC One". BBC. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- "And Then There Were None, episode three, review: 'a class act'". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- Billen, Andrew (31 March 2018). "Ordeal by Innocence: the Christie Mystery that almost got away". The Times (72497). Saturday Review. pp. 4–5. ISSN 0140-0460.
- "BBC - First-look image of John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot in BBC One's The ABC Murders - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Sarah Phelps profile". unitedagents.co.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- "The QuaranTea Break Podcast: Ep 3: Sarah Phelps – talking The Pale Horse ending, writing during lockdown and 5G conspiracy theorists on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
- "The Graham Norton Podcast: With Sarah Phelps, Lady Glenconner and Thomas Schumacher on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
- "hmv presents: My Inspiration Podcast - Sarah Phelps". HMV. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
- There, Always. "Always There - S3 E1: Sarah Phelps: part 1". Google Podcasts. Retrieved 19 June 2020.