As storylines go, it doesn’t get much more bleak than Rillington Place. The new BBC drama is based on the chilling John Christie murders of the 1940s and 50s in wartime London.
The sombre three-part series follows Christie’s killings and a subsequent tragic miscarriage of justice: Timothy Evans being hanged for a crime he did not commit. Christie went unchallenged until his arrest in 1953, while Evans’ wrongful hanging contributed to the abolition of the death penalty in Britain.
Each episode of Rillington Place tells the story from the different perspectives of Christie’s wife Ethel, Timothy Evans and then the murderer himself.
The director of the show, Craig Viveiros, says of the setting: “Rillington Place is a character in the story and it’s always been that way. It’s almost as if Christie had found this perfect house, the end of a terrace, where there was no return. He wanted seclusion but he also wanted anonymity in a place like London where you can go incognito under your Trilby, walking through the crowds. Christie’s ability to hide in plain sight at all times. Rillington Place itself was poor, it was a slum, and he could project an image of himself that was a middle class upstanding member of the community. In truth, that was all a façade.”
Tim Roth – John ‘Reg’ Christie
Christie – a Yorkshireman and one of the most prolific killers of the 20th Century – is a special police constable in the perfect position to get away with murder.
“I’ve never played anything like this before. It is especially a challenge when someone is so deceitful in a psychopathic way. He deceived the public and he deceived people close to him. He murdered with virtual impunity. He used and abused his power and was allowed to go about his merry way.” – Tim Roth
Where do I recognise Tim Roth from?
Quentin Tarantino is a big fan of Tim Roth, having cast him in The Hateful Eight, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction to name a few. Roth most recently appeared as Reg Keys in the 2016 BBC drama Reg, popped up in Selma and played the disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter in the 2014 film United Passions.
Samantha Morton – Ethel Christie
Ethel is John Christie’s wife, who welcomes him back after nine years of separation. It doesn’t take long for her to become suspicious of her husband, as she suffers from his increasingly severe psychological and physical abuse.
“My original response to the material was about playing a woman who suffers horrific domestic violence and the grey areas of what a woman potentially could and might have done. We’ll never know with Ethel really. There are no diaries to go by.” – Samantha Morton
Where do I recognise Samantha Morton from?
Morton’s latest appearance is in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. She is also known for her roles in Lassie, John Carter, Minority Report and the Ian Curtis biopic, Control.