Rillington Place is a three-part drama series on the BBC during November and December. The final episode will air this Sunday (11th December 2016), following the true story of British serial killer John ‘Reggie’ Christie. This notorious tale has been covered before: in 1971 Richard Attenborough played Christie for the crime drama 10 Rillington Place, with John Hurt receiving a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. One reason that this particular serial killer has attracted so much populist media attention is that Christie was active during 1943-1953, and an innocent man – Timothy Evans – was wrongfully convicted and hanged for some of his crimes. This wrongful execution took place in the highly-politicised lead up to the outlawing of capital punishment by British Government (1965), where Evans’ execution (1950) was used in part to argue for the change. Another reason is the curious and fascinating character of Christie himself, a quiet and mild-mannered man with a history of civil and public service. On the BBC he is played by Tim Roth, a wonderful casting, who has kept audiences enthralled. We have seen how he manipulates his equally mild-mannered wife, shuffling around their flat and peeping on neighbours, while maintaining a low profile to the outside world. Unbeknownst to those around him, and kept hidden during his court appearances, this war veteran and mellow postal worker had a violent criminal record. Through a series of police blunders, this was ignored by the legal system who favoured his civil service record over the gambler Evans.
The series so far has covered the story from the point of view of Christie’s wife, and the unfortunate Evans, an upstairs tenant at the same address. The final episode looks set to tell Evans’ notorious court case and reveal Christie’s crimes, including the sticky end of Mrs Christie. If you’re interested in a hugely significant part of Britain’s legal history, and would like to see some terrific BBC historical drama, I would highly recommend catching up on the first two episodes and then tuning in on Sunday night for the finale. Of course, authentic period styling and a gritty portrayal of working class Brits go without saying.
I’m looking forward to what the BBC come up with next!