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Malice Aforethought (BBC Crime Drama, Hywel Bennett)



Period crime drama serial Malice Aforethought takes us back to the 1930′s where small town doctor Bickleigh (Hywel Bennett) poisons his bullying wife Julia (Judy Parfitt) when she learns he is having an affair, however events begin to spiral out of control when his conquest Madeleine Cranmere (Cheryl Campbell) 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 from Ron Grainer too.

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

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

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