TV UK TV

Malice Aforethought (BBC 1979, Hywel Bennett, Cheryl Campbell)

Period crime drama serial Malice Aforethought takes us back to the 1930′s where small town doctor Bickleigh poisons his bullying wife when she learns he is having an affair, however events begin to spiral out of control when his conquest Madeleine Cranmere marries someone else and Bickleigh decides to bump off her husband too.

This a marvellously acted and written piece of nineteen thirties crime melodrama. It captures that completely reigned in feeling that struck at the heart of the well to do in between the wars England. Etiquette and being seen to do the right thing was everything then. However one can’t really generate too much sympathy for Bickleigh, he’s extremely weak, henpecked beyond belief and strikes out when things aren’t going his way.

There is clever use of thoughts from Bickleigh to show how his mind is working and a nicely jaunty soundtrack too.

production details
UK / BBC / 4×50 minute episode / Broadcast 15 March – 5 April 1979

Writer: Philip Mackie / Novel: Francis Illes / Script Editor: Cicely Cathorne / Music: Ron Grainer / Costumes: Christian Dyall / Production Design: Chris Pemsel / Producer: Richard Beynon / Director: Cyril Coke

cast
Hywel Bennett as Doctor Bickleigh
Judy Parfitt as Julia
Cheryl Campbell as Madeleine Cranmere
Harold Innocent as The Reverend Hessary Torr
Briony McRoberts as Quarnian Torr
Christopher Bramwell as Harford Ridgeway
Rohan McCulloch as Gwynfryd Rattery
Christopher Guard as Denny Bourne
Belinda Carroll as Ivy Ridgeway
Elizabeth Stewart as Mrs Torr
Mary Laine as Miss Wapsworthy
Shirley Cain as Miss Peavy
David Ashford as William Chatford
Vivienne Moore as The Maid
Susan Porrett as Florence
John Harvey as Sir Tamerton Foliott
Michael Lees as Victor
Kristine Howarth as Mrs Holne
James Grout as Chief Inspector Russell
John Woodnutt as Doctor Lydston
Antony Brown as Superintendent Allhayes
Lionel Taylor as Detective Sergeant Tanner
Anthony Woodruff as Mr Gunhill
Thorley Walters as Sir Francis Lee-Bannerton
Michael Aldridge as Sir Bernard Deverell