The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies engrosses, upsets and infuriates viewers again

A repeat of the 2014 drama about a wrongful arrest resonated deeply with ITV viewers.

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

Actor Jason Watkins’ BAFTA Award-winning performance in 2014’s The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies had a deep emotional impact with the viewing audience all over again.

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The feature-length drama dramatised the month after retired schoolteacher Christopher Jefferies was arrested on suspicion of murdering one of the tenants, Joanna Yeates, in the flats he owned in Bristol. He was harassed and demonised by the tabloid press, but later released without charge.

Another of his tenants, Dutch engineer Vincent Tabak, was later convicted of Yeates’ murder.

Viewers were delighted that ITV was repeating the drama on Monday and Tuesday nights. Jason Watkins’ “phenomenal” performance in particular drew applause.

Superlatives abounded about Watkins’ portrayal of Jefferies, with this poster writing that he gave “one of the most flawless performances in a drama of the past 15/20 years”.

Most on social media commented on the travesty of his arrest and the “appalling” treatment he received.

Jefferies himself told Radio Times that he felt dispassionate watching Watkins play him.

“Although I appear played by a character who looks remarkably like me, or who was made up to look remarkably like me, probably what comes across – but obviously I am not the best person to judge – is that this is somebody who represents or caricatures certain aspects of me, exaggerated and separated, as it were, from the whole, in order to make the point [writer] Peter Morgan wanted to make.”

Another viewer tweeted: “The papers crucified Christopher Jefferies at the time, because he chose to be different.”

There were some for whom the story had a personal connection.

Many people on Twitter commented about how they, too, were guilty in judging Jefferies, based solely on the way he looked and the life he led.

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was written by Peter Morgan – the creator of The Crown, Frost/Nixon and The Queen – and it won BAFTA TV Awards for Best Mini-series and Best Actor at the 2015 ceremony.

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