Channel 4’s upcoming series Deceit promises to be unlike the “misogynistic” true crime dramas “you see on other channels”, according to Channel 4’s Head of Drama.
The fact-based drama is a feminist retelling of the police investigation into the murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992, and told from the perspective of ‘Lizzie James’, an undercover officer asked to try to trap the main suspect in the case into giving himself up.
“True crime can be quite misogynistic in that it doesn’t often embrace the female perspective, with the women usually victims,” Channel 4’s Head of Drama Caroline Hollick told RadioTimes.com and other press.
“But that’s where Deceit is so different from other true crime you see on other [TV] channels; Emilia [di Girolamo]’s incredibly powerful sense of the importance of the female voice in this show really made it stand out.”
In a recent exclusive column for RadioTimes.com, series writer Emilia di Girolamo explained how Deceit challenges the narrative around a real-life honeytrap operation, Operation Edzell, which went catastrophically wrong.
“Depicted from a unique female viewpoint, that of the undercover officer codenamed ‘Lizzie James’ (played by Niamh Algar), Deceit examines the complicated and toxic sexual politics of the early ‘90s, the police’s obsession with the wrong man and the devastating impact on all involved,” she writes.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other press, actress Niamh Algar described the “familiar” everyday sexism that her character Sadie/’Lizzie’ encounters throughout the four-parter, which is set against the backdrop of ’90s lad culture.
She referred to a scene in episode one, in which her character’s work on an undercover operation was overlooked, while her male colleague received commendation. In the scene, she and her female colleague (played by Line of Duty star Rochenda Sandall) share a loaded glance.
“It’s interesting to watch it back,” Algar said. “And Emilia [di Girolamo] has created this… amazing scene at the start [of the series] where you see, it’s almost like Sadie being introduced as the officer – as the detective – and the subtext between Sadie and Rochenda [Sandall]’s character kind of speaks volumes.
“They don’t need to say one piece of dialogue but every woman I think watching it will understand what that feeling is. And it’s the power of not having to say anything but also having lived through that and still living through it. I think what this [show] does, is it showcases the sexism that women are under and the pressures that they’re under.”
The four-part drama series Deceit begins on Friday 13th August at 9pm on Channel 4. All four episodes will be immediately available on All4 after the first episode airs. While you’re waiting, take a look at our TV Guide for viewing inspiration or check out the rest of our Drama coverage.