User Reviews (8)

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  • Prismark108 August 2019
    So often these true crime dramas tend to start slow, try to set the scene, establish character and the mood.

    Not so with The Widower. Sheridan Smith as Claire Webster marries Malcolm Webster (Reece Shearsmith) and is soon bumped off as she takes a close interest in her husband's financial affairs.

    Malcolm is a charmer but also controlling and a killer who likes to drug people and start fires. He made Claire's death look like an accident. He collected on her life insurance and went off to New Zealand to start a new life and find his next prey. The life insurance money did not last long. However his second wife's family were eventually on to him and his nefarious plans against his second wife did not succeed.

    Malcolm returned to Scotland and set his eyes on hospital administrator Simone Banarjee. By this time the police took a closer interest on Malcolm Webster.

    The story was condensed. It was 14 years from his first marriage until the police got a warrant to investigate his house. Webster was also involved in other relationships and other deaths such as some children in a hospital in the middle east where he worked as a nurse that is glossed over.

    However Shearsmith found it difficult to put over the charm because of how quickly the episodes moved. He just came across as too creepy especially as he talked to his drugged wives which was in effect a mechanism for internal narration.

    However this a cautionary tale of a needy charmer, fantasist who can smell money from a mile off and is prepared to kill for it.
  • Malcolm Webster, found a formula for satisfying his craving for money, by doing away with his wives, based on a true story, this three part series tells the chilling story of Webster.

    I think this is a terrific series, first time I have watched it since it first aired, and it's as impressive as I remember. It get better and better as it develops, the third episode was my favourite.

    Some of the events are a little hard to believe, you will be left scratching your head, how on Earth did he get away with things for so long, but he did.

    Excellent acting, Kate Fleetwood and Archie Panjabi are particularly good, but Shearsmith is outstanding, this is the best of him as far as I can see, he is so good.

    Well worth watching. 9/10.
  • jboothmillard27 April 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    I saw the trailer for this three-part television drama, I was definitely intrigued by the choice for the leading actor, I found out it was fact based just before watching it, and Fred West drama Appropriate Adult was brilliant from ITV, so I hoped this would be as well. Basically, in Scotland 1993, Malcolm Webster (The League of Gentlemen's Reece Shearsmith) seems a mild-mannered hospital nurse, but he turns into a monster when his new wife Claire (Sheridan Smith) is questioning him about his wild spending, and to keep her quiet he drugs with the narcotic temazepam which causes her to fall asleep constantly. A medical check-up threatens to expose his actions, and he is desperate for money, so one night in 1994 after drugging her once again he deliberately crashes the car and sets it on fire, he escapes while the car blows up and kills Claire inside, and following the funeral he receives her life insurance policy of £200,000. In 1997 Maolcolm he has moved to New Zealand, having met Felicity Drumm (Kate Fleetwood), he eventually convinces her of his feelings for her and they get married, but history is to repeat itself when he starts drugging her, he still has financial difficulties and wants to get her £750,000 insurance policy, but her parents became suspicious, and she catches him out before he can go ahead with her murder, all he says is "you would have died happy" before he gets out the car and walks away. Another couple of years pass, and Malcolm has found himself another vulnerable victim to coax and embezzle, Simone Banerjee (Archie Panjabi), and this time he goes to more extreme lengths to get her on side with him, telling her he has terminal leukaemia and going through chemotherapy, shaving his head to make it all the more convincing, and she falls for his lies, and of course falls for him as a person as well. Meanwhile the police may finally be catching up to him as they were contacted by his second wife, and they re-investigate the events that lead to the death of his first wife, DS Charlie Henry (John Hannah), DCI Neil Thompson (EastEnders' Alex Ferns) and DC Jarvis (Paul Blair) eventually get permission to write a letter to Simone explaining Malcolm's past history, but she dismisses this as nonsense. In the end of course she realises he had intended to drown her pushing her off her boat that they often went sailing on, finally in 2009, after more than fifteen years after his first wife's murder, Malcolm Webster is arrested and convicted for the murder of Claire, and attempted murders of Felicity and Simone, and he is still in prison now serving life imprisonment, a minimum of thirty years. Also starring Joanna Roth as Trisha, James Laurenson as Brian Drumm, Federay Holmes as Jane Drumm, Juliet Alderice as Margaret Drumm, Dinah Stabb as Odette Webster, Robert Benfield as Alexander Webster, Amelia Crowley as Elizabeth Webster, Ahmed Jamal as Subhash Banerjee and Mary Hearn as Elizabeth Banerjee. Shearsmith is usually seen acting in dark comedy, he is a fantastic choice to play the manipulative man who talks and lies his way out of situations and of course commits deadly crime, supporting cast members Hannah, Smith and Ferns do well also, this really does grip you with how well it is written, the sinister nature to the story, and the dark sequences of plotting, it is indeed a brilliant drama. Very good!
  • I knew nothing about this case before watching The Widower. I found it to be compelling, yet appalling viewing. I found myself rooting actively for the victims, including speaking out loud to the second and third ones. I also found myself having very strong, visceral reactions to Webster which made me realize what a fantastic acting job Reese Shearsmith did. He was PERFECT, nailing the part of a man playing a victim himself, appealing to the empathic, care-taking natures of many women. Yes, he was charming, as Victim #2 says, and he was also smarmy. Even writing this I'm grimacing and feel like throwing something! One of the other reviews here complained that the TV version was not really like reality. Well, there often is a big difference between fiction and non-fiction. And, having read at least one article about what happened (Wikipedia) I realized that much had been left out, including Webster's involvement with several other women, and changed, for the sake of a dramatic thread in the show. I also learned that there is a book that the show was adapted from and I'd guess that anyone who wants true-to-life details should read it, including yours truly.
  • iainsmith-1806119 November 2020
    True life story which follows a mans hunger for greed ! Great acting & because it's a true story it'll leave you stunned at what lengths he will go to , to get what he wants .
  • Franklie16 January 2016
    We were fascinated by how oblivious this man is. The first half of the film is pretty slow, so we ended up watching it on 1.5x which helped a bit. The actors did really well and the cinematography isn't dark, which is always great. Also, except for a couple of slips, the vocab, sex, and violence are PG, which is fantastic!! Loved seeing John Hannah. Wish the story had brought the investigation in sooner and had spent more time on it. Among the few things that are unbelievable are that they couldn't get some sort of word, even anonymously, to the third victim. Would have given it 7/10, but are so grateful that they left out the gunginess that most shows include these days, we gave it 9/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I really enjoyed this. Like many other people I didn't know the story before I saw the series. I realise the writer took liberties with the actual facts because it says so, but that's fine because this is meant to be entertainment.

    This wasn't a story with any serious "conflict" in it - maybe the genre of true crime stories is like that, I don't know because I don't watch them often enough.

    My wife pointed out one interesting mistake, which is that the type of radio which the police officer is wearing in Episode 1 wasn't issued until the early 2000's, but that didn't spoil anything.

    My only issue with the series is that the ending was disappointing. Just when they've caught up with Malcolm and you're looking forwad to seeing some justice happen the whole thing just ends - with a bit of writing on the screen. How did they eventually tie the fires back to him? What evidence did they consider? How did they prove that it was him who sabotaged the life jacket? We've seen a credible character who tries to justify everything and argues their way out of everything. Am I supposed to think they sat in court and made no effort to defend any of the accusations?

    Where's the "ending"? It just suddenly stops.
  • I have been viewing this story as a TV mini-series here in New Zealand, where it made significant news due to relevant local connections.

    Whilst I cannot fault the work of the principal actors/actresses in the story, I do feel that a number of liberties have been taken in its production, leading it somewhat askew from the details of the events as they actually occurred.

    I refer here to the attempted murder of Ms. Drumm - Webster's second wife, in New Zealand, in 1999. From my recollection of the incident, the couple were driving in to the bank at which point Webster veered the car over two or three lanes of motorway before the car left the road as he pretended to be having a heart attack, not as the movie portrayed it, which involved parking up at a forest park where Webster was intending to torch the vehicle with Ms. Drumm inside.

    A further anomaly here is the funds Webster misappropriated from Ms. Drumm's account. The story clearly portrayed the amount of funds in the account as $240,000, yet in historical news reports this is stated as $140,000.

    I recall reading somewhere that some of the key witnesses were consulted prior to the making of this drama, so why did the production team find it so necessary to distort the facts in a case that will be remembered by so many for the events portrayed on-screen moreso than those given in the distantly remembered media coverage?