A television series about the real case of British teacher and novelist Peter Farquhar has been commissioned by BBC One, to be penned by Dublin Murders writer Sarah Phelps.
The Sixth Commandment will tell the story of the abusive relationship between Farquhar and his former pupil Benjamin Field, with whom he had undergone a betrothal ceremony.
In 2019, Field was convicted of murdering Farquhar after a sustained “gaslighting” plot, using alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs to make Farquhar question his sanity, as well as tricking him into changing his will.
Phelps will serve as writer on the new series, whose recent work includes Agatha Christie adaptations The Pale Horse and The ABC Murders.
“This is such a shocking and brutal case; how a murderer hid his manipulation and malevolence in plain sight of a small community, how he insinuated his way into the lives of his victims,” she said. “It’s a heartbreaking story of such desperate longing and loneliness but even within the darkness, there is the most astonishing blazing love and courage.”
In May 2020, Field lodged an appeal against his murder conviction which has been granted, although a date for it to be heard has not yet been set.
The former University of Buckingham PhD student had also been grooming Farquhar’s neighbour Ann Moore-Martin in an effort to persuade her to change her will. Field’s relationship with Miss Moore-Martin, who died of natural causes in May 2017, will also be explored in The Sixth Commandment.
The drama commission follows a highly successful year for factual drama, with the BBC’s The Salisbury Poisonings pulling in huge ratings, while ITV’s White House Farm, Quiz and Des have also been strong performers.
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, said: “The death of Peter Farquhar and the grooming of Ann Moore-Martin at the hands of Ben Field shocked the small church-going community in which these crimes took place.
“Who better than Sarah Phelps, with her vivid imagination and forensic understanding of the criminal mind, to tell this tragic story and to honour the memory of its victims.”
No cast members have been announced for the series just yet, nor is there a premiere date, but the series is confirmed to be heading to BBC One.