Malice Afterthought, ITV1

by | Apr 10, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A triumphant traditional drama. We love flashy, modern shows, but a bit of old-fashioned fun provides a nice antidote from time to time. Even if there’s some fellatio thrown in.

What to say if you disliked it

Mapp and Lucia without the laughs.

What was good about it?

* This adaptation of Francis Iles’s 1931 book was faithful to the original and brought alive how claustrophobic and snobby English villages were/are.

* Ben Miller as Dr Edmund Bickleigh. We especially loved his Basil Fawlty-like exchanges with his domineering, older wife Julia (“Thank you, dear!”) and those randy groans he made whenever a pretty lady shoved her hand inside his trousers.

* Barbara Flynn as Julia. We have always loved her, especially in manipulative, vindictive roles, and this one was perfect for her – a hatchet-faced hen pecker who has her (younger) husband on a tight leash. She humiliated him when he showed off his “doodles”, banned him from seeing the exotic new arrival in the villlage and sent him scurrying into the bushes during a tea party to retrieve a tennis ball (which he angrily crushed in one hand when he found it).

* Dr Bickleigh’s ingenious ways of disposing of his wife (turning her into a junkie) and the nosey gardener (making him use the heavy roller even though he had a dodgy ticker).

* The poisoned meat paste sandwiches scene, served up with real tension.

* The courtroom scene where the women of the village oohed and aahed in shock and admiration as the dashing doctor’s roguishness was revealed.

What was bad about it?

* The clichéd old bags who described Dr Bickleigh as a “beastly man” as soon as he was out of earshot. And the vicar was a bit of a stereotyoe, too.

* The rather incongruous, historically inaccurate frilly French knickers-Wonderbra combo worn by the vampy Miss Cranmere.

* Why do all detectives these days have to be sarcastic Scots?

* Dr Bickleigh’s “Hell’s bells” catchphrase

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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