The Sixth Commandment Interviews: Anne Reid plays Ann Moore-Martin

The Sixth Commandment Interviews Anne Reid plays Ann Moore-Martin

BBC One true crime drama The Sixth Commandment, which delves into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths of Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin in the small Buckinghamshire town of Maids Moreton. Anne Reid plays Anne Moore-Martin.

Can you provide insights into the personality of Ann Moore-Martin?

Ann was a model when she was young – a successful model. Then she became a teacher and headmistress. She lived on the same street as Peter Farquhar which is how she got to know Ben Field because he began living with Peter. Before long Ben identified Ann as a potential victim. By that stage she’d retired and was living in a very nice little house a couple of doors away. This young man becomes friendly with her and she finds him very pleasant and attractive. She’s also a very religious woman and Ben feigns a religious belief, so he gains her confidence and they become friends.

What specifically drew you to the scripts upon reading them?

Oh, they’re very, very good. Sarah Phelps is a very good writer. I mean, there’s a tremendous responsibility in playing somebody who was a real person – I’ve only ever done that once before and that was a very different character, [the romantic novelist] Barbara Cartland. But I’ve never taken a role before where I had to play somebody whose relatives are still alive and that’s a huge responsibility. Ann is a lively, intelligent woman and she dresses very well – I’m not playing an old lady in cardigans and jumpers, which is quite nice.

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How does the dynamic between her and Ben evolve?

Ben sees her in the street with her little dog Rosie and he starts to talk to her. Then, when Peter dies, he comes into her house and starts doing odd jobs in the garden. He also talks to her about his plans for becoming a priest and she finds that – and him – very appealing. He wins her confidence and sort of draws her in. Then he tells her that he’s fallen in love with her which, you know, is quite beguiling when you’re 83. To have some young man paying all this attention – and she gets taken in by him completely.

I suppose what’s frightening about the story and the character is that he is so credible and she’s not a stupid woman is she?

Absolutely not – but of course there were suspicions that he had started to drug her as he had drugged Peter Farquhar. She gets completely drawn in by him because he’s charming to her and they talk about religion quite a lot. He helps her around the house and before long she offers him a room because he says he has nowhere to live. Then they start a romantic relationship.

Tell us about Ann’s relationship with her niece Ann-Marie?

Ann and Ann-Marie are very close. I know somebody like that who’s 30 years younger than I am and is like a niece to me, so I understand that relationship. They’re particularly close because my character doesn’t have any children, so Ann-Marie becomes like a daughter to her and it’s a lovely relationship. This is the first time I’ve played that sort of real love for a younger person who isn’t your child. But then we fall out because she thinks I’m mad being interested in Ben – she thinks his behaviour is very strange and she knows he’s up to something.

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What is the appeal of The Sixth Commandment do you think?

I think that the audience will find the whole story fascinating. But what’s terrifying about this story is that this sort of terrible evil is hiding in plain sight. Ben Field could be anybody – he feels like he’s a normal loving guy. It makes you sort of question your own life. I don’t know whether I would have been taken in by someone like him, probably not. But it’s very difficult to judge relationships. Often you look at other people and you wonder ‘Why are they attracted to each other?’ But I’ve got to imagine that they might be because she was an intelligent woman who was being drugged and that was tricky to play – I’ve never taken drugs so that was quite a challenge!

Tell us about acting opposite Éanna Hardwicke who plays Ben?

Éanna’s lovely and he’d never worked in England before. When he talks naturally in his own voice he has this lovely Irish accent but his English accent is perfect. I got such a shock when I heard him talking as himself. I couldn’t actually believe that he was able to just drop his accent completely. He’s been a joy to work with.

The Sixth Commandment premieres Monday 17 July 2023 on BBC One.

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.