1 9 5 8 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
Lawrence Todhunter (Mervyn Johns) discusses a hypothetical conundrum over dinner with friends: If diagnosed with a terminal illness – with no chance of a cure and only a short time to live – who would each person choose to kill if they knew they would not face a trial or any punishment for the crime?
Todhunter then reveals proudly that he intends to commit a murder to prove that, not only can he execute the crime without being caught, but he will remain blameless until his imminent death.
Carefully considering potential victims, he eventually settles upon Marcia Loraine (Helen Cherry), a glamorous West End actress whom he has never particularly favoured and who – he believes – the world will be a better place without.
He executes his murderous deed without a hitch but is perplexed to learn that another man has been arrested for his crime. He decides that he will confess to the police rather than allow an innocent man to hang for his deeds.
But the authorities do not believe his confession and – having successfully committed the perfect crime – he must now prove his guilt.
Set in contemporary (1958) London, the six episodes followed Todhunter’s desperate efforts to extricate the poor unfortunate from the noose and confirm his own guilt, aided by his acquaintance Sir Ernest Prettiboy QC (Campbell Cotts).
Along the way, he is exposed to the farcical bureaucratic nightmare of the legal system in which conversations about guilt and innocence take place over genteel tea services and he finds it increasingly difficult to convince anyone (including the media) that he is the guilty party.
The series – adapted from the novel Trial And Error by Anthony Berkeley – provided much comic commentary on contemporary society with brief lashings of thriller content thrown in for good measure.
Sir Ernest Prettiboy QC
Det. Chief Insp. Moresby
Det. Sgt. Williams
Arthur Furze MP
In Search of a Corpse | Choice of Weapons | Death on the Lawn | Pistols for Two | Cherchez l’Homme | Rope’s End