|Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher|
ITV: starts Sunday, 7 September, 9.5pm
Story: Whicher is drawn into a high‐stakes case when Sir Edward Shore, the former Home Secretary comes to him with a delicate problem.
KATE SUMMERSCALE’S engrossing non-fiction book from 2008 about detective Jack Whicher’s investigation of the murder at Road Hill House confirmed the adage about truth being stranger than fiction. Her award-winning book was gripping and powerful.
ITV cast Paddy Considine as Whicher in its 2011 drama based on that book and, while it couldn’t encapsulate all that was in the book, it was an intelligent and captivating adaptation.
Here we have a second short series of a couple of two-hour films offering further imaginings of what Whicher did after his perceived failure with the Road Hill House case, which damaged his reputation (even though he correctly suspected the correct culprit).
Whicher goes Beyond the Pale
The problem is that these fictional takes on the Whicher legend are always going to lack the impact
|Mrs Piper (Nancy Carroll)|
of the real events surrounding the child murder that shook Victorian society in 1860. Having said that, ITV has tried hard to breath convincing life into the character and his world.
The films – Beyond the Pale and The Ties that Bind – are written by award-winning playwright Helen Edmundson, celebrated for her work at the National Theatre, RSC and Shared Experience, including Coram Boy and Mary Shelley.
In addition, the productions are handsomely filmed and have plenty of brooding atmosphere. In fact, many scenes are so dark and menacing you wish someone would turn up the gaslight so you could more clearly what’s going on.
Dismissed from the police
Whicher, again played by the low-key Paddy Considine, now acts as a ‘private inquiry agent’ in London, having left the Metropolitan Police. In the first film, he is approached by the former Home Secretary Sir Edward Shore to help him with a delicate problem. Which is a cheek, as it was Shore who signed the letter dismissing Whicher from the police.
Anyway, Shore’s son, Charles, has just returned from India with his young family after the Mutiny, having made his fortune. However, he has been followed home by an Indian man, Asim Jabour, who is threatening him.
Sir Edward and Charles are reluctant to give Whicher the full story behind Jabour’s presence, but simply want him to find the Indian and tell them where he is.
Whicher must confront his social superiors
There are, of course, murky goings-on here, and the story touches on British behaviour in India and
|Captain Charles Shore (John Heffernan)|
sees Whicher having to confront his social superiors as the story develops.
It’s an interesting insight into the era of Empire, and a juicy mystery. Helen Edmunson also opens up Whicher’s own story, including the past loss of his son and growing closeness to the widow Mrs Piper.
While it is still in the shade of the true story, the series is bold enough to explore the Victorian setting with skill and intelligence.