Éanna Hardwicke has said he had to "suspend judgement" when playing killer Ben Field in the new BBC One true crime drama The Sixth Commandment.


Hardwick plays the man who was responsible for the murder of school teacher Peter Farquhar (Timothy Spall) in the four-parter written by Sarah Phelps, which begins airing on Monday 17th July.

And in an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com ahead of the show's debut, he was asked about the process of playing someone who did such terrible things.

"I try not to think of it in terms of drawing in certain qualities," he explained. "I guess I was fortunate in that I had a lot of information to draw on, and so the only thing on my mind was trying to be faithful and accurate to those facts, and to create character from there.

"I think not judging is something that's helpful to think about," he added. "I think finding or picking particular qualities and augmenting some is not my approach because I try and see it in its totality.

"But I guess your job on the day is to suspend your judgement and to play the person you're playing from the inside out, regardless of what they've done, regardless of if they're real people or fictional."

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He added that had the show been fictional, he would have felt more free to augment certain details and "play with" the character, but that was not the right approach for a programme that has its basis in facts.

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"My aim in playing the part was just to stay true to what I had read, him in his own words, what people had said about him, the court reports," he continued. "I tried to exclude anything else and stay on those sources.

"And then you just try to play it straight as an arrow, you play it from the inside out, not playing other people's view of him. And that's the only way you can serve the story, which is obviously a strange thing because you do have to suspend your judgement, which is obviously hard."

Ben and Peter sat next to one another on a bench under a tree in a churchyard drinking tea
Ben Field (Éanna Hardwicke) and Peter Farquhar (Timothy Spall). Wild Mercury

In the interview, Hardwicke also revealed that the thing he found "most shocking" about the case was the way in which Field exploited the vulnerability of Farquar and his neighbour, Ann Moore-Martin.

"They were two people living very, very full lives," he said. "Very intelligent people, very caring families and still, this man managed to infiltrate their lives. And I think there was a strangeness to how it all happened in this very, very quiet village, which is very neighbourly, people know each other, people look out for each other.

"Part of how Ben got away with it was he blended in, in that village. He was a good neighbour, he was a Christian, he was involved in the church, he seemed to care for those around them. And so I think that there was that sort of strangeness to it as well, that it happened in this very peaceful village."

The Sixth Commandment premieres at 9pm on BBC One on Monday 17th July 2023. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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