The Radio Times logo

Landscapers true story - who were Susan and Christopher Edwards?

The four-part true-crime series unpacks their dramatic tale.

Published: Sunday, 12th December 2021 at 11:09 am

Warning: this article touches on subject matter that some readers may find distressing

Advertisement

The new drama Landscapers, airing on Sky Atlantic, has captivated viewers with its unique approach to true crime adaptation.

Starring Olivia Colman and David Thewlis as Susan and Christopher Edwards, it's written by Colman's husband Ed Sinclair alongside co-writer and director Will Sharpe (Flowers).

The married couple were found guilty of murdering Susan's parents and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years behind bars back in 2014.

Patricia and William Wycherley, 63 and 85 respectively, were both shot twice at their home in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in May 1988, before being buried in their back garden.

Sinclair explained to RadioTimes.com how the drama is not an attempt to "belittle the horror of what happened", saying: "You decide to tell a story because you think these are interesting and perhaps even important things to consider, these things about truth and how free we are to escape what makes who we are and our experiences as a child and all sorts of factors. And that’s an important area of investigation for me and that’s what brought me into this story.

"But there’s no doubt that these two committed a horrible crime, and so I guess you just hope that people can see that this is a storytelling exploration of those themes and not in any way an attempt to belittle the horror of what happened."

Susan claimed that she acted alone while her husband was at their flat in Dagenham, unaware of the grisly events, with both denying murder throughout the investigation. According to Susan's account, her mother and father were locked in an altercation, which resulted in Patricia shooting William. Susan then said that Patricia hurled a number of cruel remarks at her, including claiming that she was having an affair with Christopher, which prompted Susan to turn the gun on her mother and shoot her dead.

She also claimed that her father had sexually abused her when she was 11 years old, a fact that her mother had allegedly known but taken no action against. When Susan's lawyers appealed her minimum term sentence in 2015, arguing that it was "too long", they cited the alleged molestation as a mitigating factor.

A week after the killings, Susan said that she returned to her parents' home with Christopher, where she told him what had happened. That evening, they enjoyed fish and chips for tea and watched Eurovision, before the bodies were buried at around 2am. The next working day, Susan emptied her parents' bank account.

Landscapers - Olivia Colman and David Thewlis

The remains of Patricia and William weren't discovered until October 2013.

Susan and Christopher had successfully convinced relatives, neighbours and anyone else who knew the Wycherleys that they were still very much alive. The pair sent Christmas cards and various other correspondences to keep the pretence going. Susan told one family member that William had travelled to Ireland. She informed neighbours that her parents were in Morecambe on one occasion, and Blackpool on another.

The charade was so convincing that in 2012, William received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions requesting that he meet with someone in person to discuss his benefits in light of his upcoming 100th birthday. That prompted Susan and Christopher to pack up and head to France.

One unassuming day, Christopher rang his step-mother and told her that he was struggling to secure a job and was low on funds. The duo had spent vast sums of money on Hollywood and Old Western memorabilia with Patricia and William's savings and pensions. Some reports quote £245,000, others claim it was even higher at £285,000. They even had to sell the deceased couple's house to raise funds.

But Christopher didn't leave his phone call there. Bizarrely, he also informed his step-mother about what had happened to Patricia and William.

"I think that’s a big key to the whole series," Thewlis told RadioTimes.com. "That call and why, after so long – 15 years is a long time – and to suddenly... they were under these financial constraints obviously, and we see earlier that they'd received a telegram for the 100th birthday of William Wycherley, and therefore there was a ticking clock. I think it just got too much for him."

Sky Original drama Landscapers tells a unique love story involving a seemingly ordinary couple who become the focus of an extraordinary investigation when a couple of dead bodies are discovered in the back garden of a house in Nottingham. Stars Olivia Colman and David Thewlis

His step-mother informed the police, who then contacted Susan and Christopher, requesting that they come in for questioning. After ignoring multiple emails and letters, Christopher sent a response with the subject line: 'Surrender' (via The Guardian) and the couple took the Eurostar back to England to relay what they claimed had happened in the hope that they would walk free.

That, of course, was not to be.

"It’s such a tragic thing because you realise by making that phone call, he’s putting an end to the relationship of them [Susan and Christopher] actually being together," Thewlis added. "They may still be in love now in prison but they would never be together, physically together, after this moment."

The couple were sent to separate prisons and remain behind bars.

"You are going to spend most, if not all, of the rest of your lives in prison," said the judge during the hearing. "I accept that prison has been very difficult for both of you. Susan Edwards, I accept that you are particularly isolated and will remain so throughout your sentence."

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article please contact the Samaritans on 116123 for support or visit the website at www.samaritans.org.

Advertisement

Landscapers is available to watch now on Sky Atlantic and NOW. Looking for something else to watch? Check out the rest of our Drama coverage or take a look at our TV guide.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content