Cause Celebre took us to Bournemouth in September 1934. Middle aged Alma is married to a much older man, Francis “Rats” Rattenbury. She begins an affair with her 18 year old chauffeur, George Bowman. As their relationship intensifies, George becomes convinced that they would be better off without “Rats” around. Then Rats is found murdered…
Some top class production design and roles for the rather gorgeous Helen Mirren and a young David Morrissey, make this a very watchable drama. Cause Celebre was actually based on a true story a murder trial that really was one of the big Cause Celebre’s of the 1930’s.
Esteemed playwright Terence Rattigan had turned the story into a stage production previously, mainly focused on the actual trial. This adaptation opened the events out somewhat with the first half showing the full development of the relationship between Alma and George.
The drama stays remarkably faithful to the facts of the case, only Bowman’s surname changing, from the original Stoner. The production is similar in style and tone to the 1979 BBC drama Malice Aforethought.
UK / ITV Network – Anglia / 1×135 minute episode / Broadcast 23 August 1987
Writer: Ken Taylor / Play: Terence Rattigan / Choreography: Geraldine Stephenson / Costumes: Prue Handley / Music: Richard Harvey / Production Design: Jon Pusey / Producer: John Rosenburg / Director: John Gorrie
HELEN MIRREN as Alma Rattenbury
DAVID MORRISSEY as George Bowman
HARRY ANDREWS as Francis Rattenbury
DAVID SUCHET as T.J. O’Connor K.C.
NORMA WEST as Irene Riggs
GEOFFREY BAYLDON as Mr Justice Humphreys
CLIVE SWIFT as R.P. Croom Johnson K.C.
OLIVER FORD DAVIES as J.D. Casswell
GILLIAN MARTELL as Joan Webster
EDMUND PEGGE as Constable Bagwell
DAVID SIMEON as Inspector Carter
NEIL JEFFERY as Christopher
JOE ANDERSON as Little John
ADAM BLACKWOOD as Ewan Montagu
ALAN ROWE as E. Marshall Harvey
TIMOTHY KIGHTLEY as Lewis Manning
WENDY WILLIAMS as Edith Davenport
PAUL GREENHALGH as Clerk of the Court
ROBIN BROWNE as Usher
GORDON SALKILLD as Foreman of the Jury
PETER VAN DISSEL as 1st Reporter
GIL SUTHERLAND as 2nd Reporter
HARRY (AITCH) FIELDER as Policeman