BBC true crime drama The Sixth Commandment is nearly here and star Timothy Spall has said that acting in the TV series was a "massive responsibility".


The Sixth Commandment tells the story of the deaths of Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin and the events that took place before and after.

A four-part series, it was written by Sarah Phelps (A Very British Scandal) and stars Timothy Spall and Anne Reid in lead roles alongside Éanna Hardwicke.

The series follows Ben Field's (Hardwicke) manipulation of Moore-Martin (Reid) and Farquhar (Spall), in what the BBC describes as "one of the most complex and confounding criminal cases in recent memory".

You can check out the trailer for the drama and catch a glimpse of Spall's performance below:

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Acting as a real person, especially someone who was murdered, is a complex undertaking. It's something that lead actor Spall had to grapple with and a task that was taken on with the utmost care.

Speaking about his role of Peter Farquhar, Spall explained: "It's a massive responsibility when you're playing a real human being who was being a family man, as they live on with love in people's hearts.

"It's never lost on me and I have done my very best for Peter. I'm not trying to make it sound like some worthy, noble thing, but you're telling a story about someone who's loved and remembered and was alive not that long ago.

"It's so important to me that the family are behind this; he was a much-loved human being who died so tragically. So you really do want to get it right."

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) in The Sixth Commandment. Wild Mercury Wild Mercury

He insisted that the series writer Phelps has got it right, however, adding that she "has done a marvellous job in writing a drama that's so subtle and delicate, riddled with such emotional depth".

"The Sixth Commandment shows how brilliant and vivacious these older people were, the subtleties of their lives and their vulnerabilities, their strengths, their intellectual acumen and their weaknesses," he added.

"We see the slow erosion of this in Peter who was a wonderfully interesting, vibrant and intellectually brilliant man. He was an influential teacher, changing the life of so many young people, setting them on a track.

"But no matter how brilliant he was, all his life he suffered from a sense of not being worthy of love or intimacy."

Spall added that The Sixth Commandment ensures the focus is on the victims and not just on the perpetrator, unlike many high-profile cases.

"Throughout history, the people who become famous in the terrible drama of a murder tend not to be the victims but the murderers," he said. "How much do we know about the victims of Jack the Ripper? Or the victims of Harold Shipman?

"This story shows you what these people who were victims of this behaviour were like so that in a sense, it's a tribute to them."

The Sixth Commandment airs on Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th July at 9pm on BBC One. Episodes 3 and 4 will air on Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th. You’ll be able to watch them all on BBC iPlayer, too.

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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