The Secret

Series 1 - Episode 1



The killer dentist. The Sunday School teacher caught in an affair. The scandal amid a devout Baptist community in Coleraine. No wonder the real-life double-murder case involving Colin Howell and Hazel Buchanan shocked Northern Ireland when it came to light in 2010. Now James Nesbitt stars in a drama that does a smooth job of making the gruelling events believable.

We begin in 1990 with Colin (James Nesbitt), a charming dentist and pillar of his local Baptist church. He is married with three children and another on the way when he starts flirting with teacher Hazel (Genevieve O’Reilly) over guitar lessons. The embark on a guilty affair: “This is God’s gift. We would be wrong to refuse it,” he assures her.

That’s one of the best things in Stuart Urban’s script – a sense of how important religion, being part of “a flock”, is to the lovers, even as they trample on their own beliefs. The result is a calm morality tale about love, hypocrisy and the ordinariness of evil.


True-life drama set in 1990 Northern Ireland, starring James Nesbitt as respected dentist Colin Howell, who falls for Hazel Buchanan at his local Baptist church and embarks upon a passionate affair. Wanting to remain in the church, Colin refuses to consider divorce, but he and Hazel are desperate to find some way to be together. When his wife Lesley's father dies and she contemplates suicide, Colin believes that he has found a way forward and both enter a deadly pact. With Genevieve O'Reilly, Laura Pyper and Glen Wallace.

Cast & Crew

Colin Howell James Nesbitt
Hazel Buchanan Genevieve O'Reilly
Lesley Howell Laura Pyper
Trevor Buchanan Glen Wallace
Pastor John Hansford Jason Watkins
Grandpa Harry Clarke James Greene
Andy Comerford David Pearse
Hilary McAuley Ali White
Eileen McCloskey Riley Hamilton
Lauren Howell Nina Woods
Daniel Howell Murray Speers
Andrew Buchanan Jack Erdis
Lisa Buchanan Sophie Mellotte
Dental receptionist Eileen McCloskey
Adapted By Stuart Urban
Director Nick Murphy
Executive Producer Mark Redhead
Producer Jonathan Curling
Writer Deric Henderson
see more