In 2005 ITV aired the 1920’s period thriller Malice Aforethought, based on the 1931 novel of the same name by Frances Iles. Richard plays the supporting role of solicitor Bill Chatford. Bill returns from his honeymoon with his pretty wife Ivy (Lucy Brown), only to discover she was the village physician Dr. Bickleigh’s mistress before their marriage.
Bickleigh (Ben Miller) whose own wife is a harpy several years his senior, has a dilemma. His current amour, Madeleine, wants a ring on her finger and will not settle for being the other woman. And so he plots to poison the wife.
This isn’t a murder mystery, as there is never any doubt “whodunit.” But will Bickleigh get away with it? Or will Bill, who is suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the death of the doctor’s wife, get the evidence to prove Bickleigh’s guilt? Will there be more victims?
As Richard himself says, there is a thread of dark humor (dark humor, I like) running through the production, and Ben Miller is particularly good in the role of the womanizing murderer. You will also recognize the lovely actress Lucy Brown, who played Ann Latimer in N&S, as Ivy. Bill may be, as Richard describes the character, a “misogynistic cad,” but he sure looks swell in his tennis whites. He wears a thin mustache and frequently bears a resemblance to Guy in a definitely disdainful mood.
I always seem to enjoy period mysteries/thrillers/dramas like this. MA offers a literate script, talented cast, lovely 20’s-era costumes and a glimpse of a time long past of garden parties, games of croquet and lawn tennis in a charming English village. MA is available on DVD on both Region 1 and Region 2 formats and I believe it is also available through Netflix.
(screencaps courtesy of RANet)