Anne Reid and Timothy Spall to Lead True Crime Drama 'The Sixth Commandment'

Timothy Spall and Anne Reid in "The Sixth Commandment"

Timothy Spall and Anne Reid in "The Sixth Commandment"

(Photo: BBC)

Award winning actress Anne Reid is certainly staying booked and busy now her time on the seaside-set period drama Sanditon has come to a close, taking on a role that's quite different from that of rich society matron Lady Denham. She's next set to star alongside Timothy Spall (The Pale Blue Eye) in true crime drama The Sixth Commandment, a four-part series about the death of Peter Farquhar in the village of Maids Moreton, as well as the  complicated series of criminal events --- from fraud and burglary to murder ---- that surround it.

The series follows the story of Ben Field, a charismatic student who drugged, gaslit, and finally murdered university lecturer and novelist Farquhar in Buckinghamshire in 2015. Field, who had a romantic relationship with Farquhar, gave him benzodiazepines and other psychoactive drugs to alter his moods and behavior, manipulated him into making him a beneficiary of his will, and ultimately suffocated him, leaving a half-empty bottle of whisky at the crime scene in the hopes of convincing authorities that he'd drunk himself to death. 

Field then set his sights on 83-year-old neighbor Anne Moore-Martin, aiming to seduce and gaslight her into changing her will as well. Aware of her deeply religious background, he even began leaving supposed "messages from God" on her mirror. His plans ultimately unraveled when Moore-Martin's niece contacted the police about their relationship, alleging that Field was manipulating her aunt. The investigation that followed revealed Ben's connection to Farquar --- who had lived just three doors down --- and the uncomfortable (and potentially deadly) similarities between the two situations

Anne Reid and Éanna Hardwicke in "The Sixth Commandment"

Anne Reid and Éanna Hardwicke in "The Sixth Commandment" 

(Photo: BBC)

Here's the synopsis from the BBC: 

The Sixth Commandment tells the story of how the meeting of an inspirational teacher, Peter Farquhar (Timothy Spall), and a charismatic student, Ben Field (Éanna Hardwicke), set the stage for one of the most complex and confounding criminal cases in recent memory. It also focuses on how suspicions around Field’s relationship with Ann Moore-Martin (Anne Reid), Peter’s deeply religious neighbour, unlocked a series of chilling revelations.

The Sixth Commandment explores the way in which both Peter and Ann were manipulated by Field, capturing the extreme gaslighting, the gripping police investigation and the high-profile trial, while poignantly highlighting the devastating effect of isolation and loneliness, as Field closed in on them. It also celebrates both Peter and Ann’s lives as cherished mentors, much loved relatives and adored friends.

Unusually for a series like this, The Sixth Commandment has been made with the full cooperation of the victims' families. 

"I wouldn't have been able to write this without the help, support, and insights of Peter and Ann's families, writer Sarah Phelps (A Very British Scandal)  said in a statement when the series was announced back in June of 2022. "I’m so appreciative of the trust they placed in me to tell the stories of their loved ones. I’m thrilled that we have such an astonishing cast and phenomenal team of creatives, led by our director Saul Dibb, to bring my scripts to life."

Spall and Reid play Farquahr and Moore-Martin, respectively, alongside Normal People's Éanna Hardwicke as Field. They'll be joined by Annabel Scholey (Britannia) as Ann’s niece Ann-Marie Blake; Sheila Hancock (A Discovery of Witches) as Liz Zettl, and Ben Bailey Smith (Persuasion) as Simon Blake. Other cast members include Conor MacNeill (Industry), Adrian Rawlins (Baptiste), and Amanda Root (Summerland).

There's no premiere date for The Six Commandments as yet on either side of the pond, but its disturbing true crime bent does seem to make this one a no-brainer fit for BritBox, which has been stocking up on these sorts of shows in recent years. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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