1 April 2003 | DPMay
A classic tv adaptation of a classic crime novel.
Francis Iles' original novel, written in the 1920s, broke the mould for crime fiction as it was not a wholly serious 'whodunnit' but a black comedy which revealed the murderer right from the outset and allowed the reader to be privvy to his every calculated thought as he conceives and executes his crime and then copes with the consequences of his actions.
This BBC adaptation, first broadcast in March 1979, is faithful to the book. All the names, characters and key scenes are intact and it captures perfectly the subtle underlying comedy without detriment to the drama of the piece.
Hywel Bennett is superb in the main role of the murderer, Dr Edmund Bickleigh. Fresh from appearing in the acclaimed Dennis Potter serial "Pennies From Heaven", he was about to achieve further success with this serial, then "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and the sitcom "Shelley" which made him a household name. His performance here as Bickleigh is probably the pick of the bunch as he effortlessly steers the character through his many guises - hen-pecked husband, charming lover, scheming murderer and worried defendant.
Shot entirely on video and almost entirely on location this is a glossy television production for its time that, thanks to its 1920s setting, has hardly dated since its original transmission.