1 9 7 9 (UK)
4 x 50 minute episodes
It is the summer of 1927 and hen-pecked Hampshire doctor Edmund Bickleigh (Hywel Bennett) has a flourishing country practice and a demanding and censorious wife, Julia (Judy Parfitt).
After 10 years of marriage, their relationship is nothing more than bullying and mutual hatred, and he dreams of a little romance in his life and the opportunity to escape the doldrums in which he finds himself trapped.
He becomes infatuated with Madeleine Cranmere (Cheryl Campbell), a beautiful newcomer to the village, which gives him a new lease of life when he felt all was lost.
But when he declares this to Julia and demands a divorce, she refuses to agree.
And so he determines to commit the perfect murder of his wife and not get caught, in order to pursue Madeleine.
Succeeding in his endeavour – Julia has seemingly died from natural causes and the police have no reason to suspect Bickleigh – he is alarmed to now find Madeleine entering into marriage with Denny Bourne (Christopher Guard).
And so Dr Bickleigh resolves to enjoy life without his wife and seeks to eliminate any links to her murder by poisoning his former mistress and William Chatford (David Ashford) – one of his wife’s friends.
Unfortunately, this only serves to implicate him in the death of his wife and he is arrested on suspicion of the crime. Dr Bickleigh now finds himself on trial for murder (and attempted murder) with the crucial evidence being the potted meat sandwiches he served to his unfortunate victims.
Based on a 1920s thriller by crime writer Francis Iles, the four-part BBC series was shot over six weeks in and around Winchester. It’s an immaculate production with fine performances, confident design, a perfect period score from Ron Grainer, and beautiful sunny days filmed on location.
Dr Edmund Bickleigh
Rev. Hessary Torr