The Suspicions of Mr Whicher is ITVs cosy Sunday night drama for this week. I say cosy because this production was based on an infamous Victorian murder case, notorious for the brutality in which a three year old boy was killed, yet people of a sensitive disposition need not worry, audiences are well and truly guarded from the gruesome details.
Adapted from the best-selling non- fiction book by Kate Summerscale, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher opens in 1860 and follows the murder investigation of Saville Kent from the point of view of detective inspector Jack Whicher, Paddy Considine. It quickly begins to look like an inside job at Road Hill House, but getting evidence to back up his suspicions is what becomes the drive of the narrative. Whicher is eaten up with frustration at the case, which is helped in no way by the local Superintendent Foley, Tom Georgeson, who seems determinedly apt in miss-direction.
Inevitably Mr Whicher’s frustrations transcend to the viewer, as they are never treated to any extra reveal, which so frequently occurs in detective dramas. Instead, being limited to Whicher’s point of view, whose only real confidence is in his knowledge of the criminal mind and its motives, it becomes tragically apparent how much guesswork and simple self-belief was involved in the criminal justice system in the 1800s.
Paddy Considine’s sincere and textured performance was very accomplished; without it the drama could have been left quite dry. And the eventual culprit (or culprits depending which way you want to look at it) pulled off the feigning of their innocence so well that, although it was clear they were guilty, I was left unconvinced of their capabilities of cold-blooded murder. As a result, this dramatization of a real-life case felt more like a soft, inoffensive fiction.
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher does build up tension and mystery well and is an exciting whodunit, with enough ‘suspicions’ still left over at the end, rather than proof, that will keep you guessing about what really happened in the murder at Road Hill House for a long time afterwards.
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This review is also featured at Step2InspireTV.