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Acorn Media takes control of Agatha Christie estate

By Curt Wagner

RedEye

9:34 AM EST, March 1, 2012

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Agatha Christie and Acorn TV: Two of my favorite pastimes now are more connected than ever.

Maryland-based Acorn Media Group has bought 64 percent of Christie's literary estate, making the private company the majority owner of more than 80 novels, 19 plays and nearly 40 TV movies.

The collection had belonged to Chorion Ltd. of London. It's the first time an American company has owned a majority stake of the British novelist's estate. The Christie family keeps a 36 percent stake, with Mathew Prichard, Christie's grandson, remaining as chairman.

Christie, who died in 1976, is considered the bestselling novelist of all time, with more than 2 billion books sold. She's probably best known for creating Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, the sleuths at the center of many of her books and stories that continue to be adapted into TV films that air on PBS in the U.S.

British network ITV recently commissioned eight new episodes of Poirot and Marple that will start production in the summer, according to reports. They will air beginning in 2013 on ITV and PBS. Feature film adaptations are also in development with these characters.

All these works will eventually find their way to Acorn, which has functioned as the distributor of British TV on home video in the U.S. Last year the company launched Acorn TV, the first British TV-focused streaming video service. I am hooked on the service.

For less than $25 a year, you become a member, giving you the chance to watch about 10 different British series on the service each month, from the Christie mysteries to "Foyle's War" to "Upstairs, Downstairs" and any number of other shows that could fill that "Downton Abbey" void you're currently feeling.

Non-members can stream the first episode of a series to sample, the idea being that if they like it, they'll purchase the DVD sets right there from Acorn.

Series 3 of "Agatha Christie's Poirot" is currently among the choices on Acorn TV.