The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – the best-selling book by Kate Summerscale about an infamous murder in a Victorian country house – has been adapted for ITV by Hat Trick Productions. The two hour drama will star Paddy Considine (Red Riding Trilogy, Dead Man’s Shoes, The Bourne Ultimatum, 24 Hour Party People, Hot Fuzz) in the lead role of Inspector Jonathan Whicher and will be adapted by Neil McKay (Mo, See No Evil: The Moors Murders).
Set in 1860, this gripping true story of murder, psychological suspense and courtroom drama begins when three-year-old Saville Kent is found brutally murdered and hidden down a servants’ privy in the grounds of the elegant Rode Hill House on the edge of a sleepy village on the Wiltshire / Somerset border.
As the local police struggle to solve the crime, the case becomes a national scandal: “The security of families, and the sacredness of English households demand that this matter should never be allowed to rest till the last shadow in it dark mystery shall have been chased away,” declares The Morning Post.
On the orders of the Home Secretary, Inspector Jonathan “Jack” Whicher, the so-called “Prince of Sleuths” from the newly formed Scotland Yard detective department, is despatched to the countryside to restore justice. Whicher was the inspiration for the first fictional detectives created by Wilkie Collins and Dickens, but the case was to prove the most difficult of his career.
Behind the seemingly respectable middle-class façade of the Kent family, he discovers adultery, insanity and jealousy in a world populated by gossiping servants, a wicked stepmother and rebellious children. With the local police actively working against him, it’s a struggle for Whicher to find the evidence and nail the culprit.
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher will film on location around London in October. It will be directed by James Hawes (DCI Banks: Aftermath, Enid). The Executive Producer for Hat Trick Productions is Mark Redhead (Mutual Friends, God On Trial, Bodies, Bloody Sunday).
Mark says: “This a very modern story. It gripped the country in the way that the case of Madeleine McCann has done in our day. It became an obsession for the press and was even debated in the House of Commons. Perhaps for the first time, the Rode Hill House murder exposed the darkness that lay behind the solid front door of the respectable English home. As a story it is riveting but also deeply touching.”
The drama has been commissioned by ITV’s Director of Drama Commissioning Laura Mackie and Controller of Drama Commissioning Sally Haynes who comments: “The Suspicions of Mr Whicher has been a huge literary success and Neil McKay has done a superb job adapting Kate Summerscale’s fascinating book. Paddy Considine is the perfect actor to bring Whicher to the screen”.