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  • I enjoyed Fallen Angel on ITV1 this week. It's not your conventional murder mystery we are so used to seeing. I like the innovative "rewind" format used to trace the life of serial killer Rosie (Emilia Fox) back to 1991 and 1979. We uncover her motives and influences that made her what she is - more a whydunit than a whodunit. There are no obvious quick fixes pinning down a single reason for Rosie's behaviour. The complex story arc neatly ties the complex relationships between Rosie, her clergyman father David (Charles Dance), family friend Wendy (Clare Holman) and adversary Michael (Oliver Dimsdale). Running through the core of all three episodes is a subplot about an allegedly murderous clergyman from the 1920's, Francis Ulgreave, who practised child sacrifice. Although long dead, his story casts a long shadow over all the characters with disastrous consequences. Fallen Angel is a provocative and intelligent tale of the need for love and the consequences of keeping secrets. I've already put Andrew Taylor's novels in my Amazon wish list.

    Fallen Angel - Behind the Scenes on ITV3 provided further enlightenment. It had psychologists detailing scenes in the serial which exemplified the motivations of psychopathic killers. One example, where Rosie storms out after she mistakenly believes that David accused her of stealing stepmother Vanessa's (Niamh Cusack) ring, demonstrates a psychopath's impulsiveness. Andrew Taylor deliberately made his killer female to counter society's preconceptions of beautiful women being all sweetness and light. One case he was influenced by was that of baby killer Beverley Allitt. The cast and crew discuss the nature / nurture debate as to what makes a person evil. One bit of trivia: Clare Holman had make up applied which creased her face to make her look older in the contemporary scenes. She was so well camouflaged that a crew member mistook her for a chaperon!

    There were good performances all round. Charles Dance was studious as the repressed and sexually rapacious vicar. Niamh Cusack was effectively obsessive and tetchy as David's second wife, Vanessa, who is more interested in Francis Ulgreave's journals than satisfying her husband's hungry sexual appetite. Mark Benton was convincing as Eddie, the paedophile simpleton unwittingly manipulated by Rosie into doing her murderous bidding. Sheila Hancock gives a majestic performance as Francis Ulgreave's adopted daughter mischievously keeping her family secrets from the desperately fascinated Vanessa. Emilia Fox was cold and calculating as Rosie, but also gave her the soft, childlike vulnerability of someone who craves ultimate adult power, but hasn't grown up and is trapped and defined by her tragic past and disappointments in life.

    The young child actors were splendid too. Jade Sharif as Michael's kidnapped daughter portrayed a captivating and heart-melting innocence that belied her ignorance of the dangerous situation she was in. Tigerlily Hutchinson as the young Rosie was magnificent as the headstrong and inquisitive youngster tightly drawn into a web of religious obsession that drives her on the road to murder.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The series is not a typical whodunit story that seems to flood the TV channels regularly, where the police have crimes and have to work out who is the killer. This production shows us the killer Rosemary/Angel first and we see her as this cold and calculating woman and she just comes across as this horrible person who has kidnapped a child as revenge against the child's father (Michael) and grandmother (wendy). The series then shifts to the characters of Wendy and David who happens to be Rosie's father and minister and they examine all the events leading up to her becoming a killer and what made her mind become twisted and they go back in time and remember what could have contributed to her being the person she is today.

    This is very unique because the thriller then becomes a rewind drama. In the second part, we see Rosemary as a teenager in 1991. The audience is shown what life was like for her at this time, she does not get on with her new stepmother, her father is absorbed in his own problems, she is attracted to a man who is a type of bad boy and she doesn't get on with Wendy's son Michael. It all comes to a head when Rosemary see's her boyfriend and stepmother flirting and in a rage she stabs her stepmother to death and Michael witnesses it and tells his family and at the end as Rosemary is being taken away, she vows revenge on all of them.

    The third part takes place in 1979 when Rosie is five years old. Wendy has come to stay as her marriage is in trouble and she witnesses all that happens in the house. David in neglectful of his family, Janet, Rosie's mother is pregnant but loses the baby, Janet's father comes to stay and he has dementia. He and Rosie are very close and there is a hint that there might be sexual abuse going on. Janet's father gets worse and says out loud, he wishes he was dead. The next day, he is found murdered in his bed. Janet commits suicide and leaves a note saying it was her who killed her father but we later find out it was Rosie.

    At the end, both David and Wendy realise there was warning signs but they chose to ignore them because they were blinded to Rosemary's angelic appearance and the trauma she went through when she was younger. The programme is good because you are left wondering if she had the help sooner, would she have been a different person and the simple answer is you don't know.

    The actors were superb, particularly Charles Dance and Clare Holman who have to go from being in their 60's to early 40's and they pull it off convincingly. Emilia Fox is amazing in her role as a serial killer especially in the first episode where her eyes don't seen to show any emotion and she just stares coldly at people, with no visible expression on her face and she comes across as being a very scary person. In the second one, she managed to convincingly act as a teenager and I felt sympathy for her and understood what factors pushed her down the path she took.

    I have to make special mention of Tigerlily Hutchinson, who is a brilliant little actor especially at her age and there are some chilling moments, particularly when she is standing by her grandfather's bed, blood all over her and the knife in her hand showing no emotion.

    The episodes kept me glued to my seat even though I had a feeling that Rosemary was responsible and it was only when the flashbacks happened that it was confirmed.

    The directing, music and writing just adds to the fine quality of the drama and it has made me interested in reading the trilogy of books that the drama was based on. It is one of the best dramas I have ever seen on ITV.

    I recommend it to people who want something different from the run of the mill programmes that are on the TV at the moment.
  • kirkdzsimi4 September 2013
    This is the story of a young female so obsessed with perfection and vengeance that she sees killing as a logical way to order her day to day and spiritual life.

    Starting in the modern day Rosie/Angel (Emilia Fox) seems a cold and intense young woman who stalks and murders with a cool efficiency to honour her hero, Francis Youlgrave a disgraced former priest. Devoted to a pseudo-Catholic cult of her own making based on Youlgrave's poetry where she learns the cleric believed himself to be an angel and drifted along into the world of blood sacrifice in order to complete the Eucharist.

    What pleased me most was that the TV trilogy is extremely faithful to the excellent Roth Trilogy books by Andrew Taylor, which like this were also in reverse chronological order. We learn in the first five minutes that Rosie mutilates children. However, this is not the mystery. The mystery is why she does it: what awful things could have happened to her to make this young, intelligent and beautiful woman act this way.

    We are taken on a journey into the three most important parts of her past: Rosie in her 30's in busy London; Rosie as a seemingly happy-go- lucky teenager in the idyllic village of Roth, applying for a place at Cambridge and Rosie as a five year old with a terrible secret.

    Fallen Angel is superbly put together as is the cast: Charles Dance as the stern, sinisterly cerebral vicar David, Emilia Fox as his daughter 18 year old Rosie and 30 something Angel who has taken her father's characteristics and changed them just slightly and become a monster, Mark Benton as Angel's dim-witted flatmate and Clare Holman the keeper of the family secret who tries to keep sanity and order throughout the three decades of the piece. Sheila Hancock and Peter Capaldi make creditable appearances too.

    The plot gives many suggestions as to what makes a murderer: an obsession with Christ's body and blood, parental careerism, lust, personality disorders or simply living with secrets. Make your own decision

    One thing is for certain Rosie is far from being a two dimensional villain and this drama left me unable to think about anything else after it had finished. Remarkable. This could not have been better.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In my view's, this is one of the best itv drama's for some time now. Emilia Fox plays such a wonderful, disturbed and black hearted killer in Fallen Angel. With Fallen Angel, it takes you back in time from when she gets caught kidnapping the little girl, to when she is a teenager and what drives her to this madness and when she in a five year old girl. There are some outstanding performances by Charles Dance who plays Rosmarie's (Emilia Fox) dad and Clare holman as Wendy who is Lucy's grandmother. If you had missed the drama, it will be available to by on the 19th of March on DVD. I strongly advise you that if you like drama's, you'll love this. View the trailer at
  • suemartin2326415 March 2007
    I've never seen anything like this. The plot is muddled, pure acting talent is thrown to waste, and a lot of characters just don't fit in with the story. The first episode is enough to put you off the rest of this terrible mini series.

    It starts off in 1979, with a young girl finding her grandfather dead on the floor. Then it skips to the present day, with a stupid scene showing an old woman storming into a church and insulting the vicar. That in itself is one horrible section, and it never gets better.

    The second and third episodes are arguably better than the first, but, to be honest, none of it is any good.

    Don't waste your time. Give this one a miss.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Watched "the making of" documentary with an interview with the original author talking cobblers. No, it is not common for serial killers to have partners. It is rare. Most are loners. The author made his killer a woman because of an anecdote by a worker in a psychiatric ward who claimed they were most afraid of the female inmates. Not a good enough reason to make his character a serial killer, which is very rare on the distaff side, let alone in the middle to upper classes. Add to that some banal observations on the moral deception of beauty and hey Presto.

    This is in fact the usual middle class wankery, enjoying the frisson of playing with "dark" subject matter. Once again, the murder of children is nauseatingly paraded. Aren't we all sick of this? In one stupid scene we are expected to believe a five year old could commit a violent murder with a knife like the beginning of "Halloween". I hope it was computer faked because it would be pretty reprehensible to stage the whole thing with a kid for real.

    The silliest moment is the sex scene between a wrinkled old priest and a gorgeous young girl with pneumatic breasts. Typical writers fantasy that. In the real world he'd be lucky to get it on with a bag lady in his congregation, if that.

    On the plus side, I have a thing for Emilia Fox. Just as well, as she's in bloody everything.