TV Crime Log: Widower, De Luca

THE_WIDOWERIt must be someone’s job at ITV to sit with a pile of newspapers cutting out true-crime stories with the potential to make into serials.

The latest three-part drama based on a real-life murder case is The Widower, starring Reece ‘we’ll have no trouble here’ Shearsmith as convicted murderer Malcolm Webster.

As the blurb reminds us, it’s always the quiet ones:

When Malcolm Webster comes under pressure from new wife Claire over his mounting debts, he begins systematically drugging her to keep her under control. When she books a doctor’s appointment to run tests, Malcolm takes matters into his own hands by staging a car accident in which she is killed.

After escaping justice and cashing in on a £200,000 life insurance policy, he relocates to New Zealand and is soon walking down the aisle with new bride, Felicity Drumm. He moves her back to Scotland, and while Felicity is busy organising their finances for a new house to raise a family, Malcolm is trying to gain access to her savings to hide the fact that he is broke again. He plies her with sedatives, as he did with Claire, but stops short of killing her when he discovers she is pregnant.

The birth of their son brings a temporary reprieve to the drugging, but when Felicity turns up the heat for him to account for his finances, Malcolm returns to his old ways.

However, Felicity is spirited and refuses to give up on her dream home. When Malcolm exhausts his excuses, he decides to deal with the problem once and for all. But will he succeed?

The series is co-written by Jeff Pope, who specializes in this kind of adaptation. He wrote Lucan, I believe, and the Fred West thing. The first episode of The Widower is on ITV tonight – you cannot believe the valuable time I save not having to write ITV1 anymore – at 9pm.

p01v20fgA good man in a corrupt system. Now there’s a good theme for a series of crime novels. Why hasn’t anybody done it?

Oh, wait, they have – several thousand times.

One of those compromised cops, Inspector De Luca, is the latest detective to pop up on BBC4 of a Saturday night.

De Luca appeared in a trilogy of books – that’s a fancy way of saying three books – by Carlo Lucarelli. His precinct is fascist Italy, pre and post-war. De Luca’s investigations bring him into uncomfortable proximity with the lampost-allergic Il Duce and the other unpleasant bunch of thugs who ran the country at that time.

In the first episode, this Saturday, the discovery of a body near Mussolini’s holiday home causes complications for the De Luca. You can unravel the conspiracy at 9pm. Warn your mother to wear her glasses because there may be subtitles.

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