REVIEW: A Confession (S1 E5/6)

It’s time for me to catch up with A Confession, ITV’s retelling of the story of DS Steve Fulcher, a murderer, Christopher Halliwell, and two of his victims – Sian O’Callaghan and Becky Godden – as well as seismic trauma suffered by the victims’ families.

So far, we’ve seen Fulcher catch a killer by unconventional methods, and those methods deemed against PACE guidelines. And because of these discrepancies, Halliwell was only sent down for one of the murders he confessed to.

In the episode, we saw Fulcher – not Halliwell – taken to the cleaners.

Already fighting an allegation of police malpractice by the feckless father of Becky Godden, he was also having to fight off an allegation that he gave an unsolicited interview with a journalist when he was expressly told not to. We saw he had met with the journalist at the end of episode four, so he was bang to rights for that one, but serious malpractice?

It seemed that the Wiltshire police had it in for Fulcher. So much so he was suspended from duty with immediate effects and humiliated in his home after all of his work items were confiscated. In front of his mother and father-in-law, too.

One person who was in his corner was Becky’s mother Karen. An extraordinary woman, she was still fighting the good fight when it came to trying to bring Halliwell to trial for the murder of her daughter. She was failing – not because of any lack of determination or incredible stamina keeping Becky in the public eye (she got the support of her local MP and staged demos) – but because time and time again the law just kept saying no.

As for Fulcher, he was found guilty of all the charges against him and received a final written warning.

Wiltshire police continued to do him down and he sent to the police equivalent of Siberia – managing a police van service. It was rank humiliation and he couldn’t take it any longer. He quit.

There’s no doubt about it – this has been an extraordinary story, with a lot of layers. Some of them you just couldn’t make up.

Not just because of a fascinating and gripping procedural element that was heavily featured in the first two episodes, but because of the subsequent fall-out and the moral dilemma both Fulcher and his superiors subsequently faced. And it has been these moral dilemmas that have been tilted towards in these final few episodes: even if you know you’re sort-of-kind-of breaking the rules, do you do so, knowing that you can get a cast-iron confession and perhaps save a life? Do you do so knowing that you would be helping a family who had not seen their daughter for five or six years and desperately needed answers?

What really distances A Confession from a straight retelling, however, is the human aspect in all this mess. Elaine (a superb Siobhan Finneran) and her family still grapple with their past and future – Elaine’s partner is becoming oddly pushy and is a little sinister (see the can of Coke from the fridge incident).

Fulcher’s own domestic life is also starting to fall apart. Since his suspension he’s taken to smoking in the house, moping and not showering. His wife is at the end of her tether. Their relationship is beginning to fall apart.

Even though they were hard to watch – it’s never easy seeing families deal with the unthinkable – these human side-stories are what make A Confession not only stand out from the crowd, but, strangely, give it soul… even though the everyone in this story has had there’s ripped out.

Paul Hirons





One Comment Add yours

  1. Tim Saville says:

    A very episode in what has been an excellent series. My only criticism is that Robert Buckland MP clearly has a Welsh accent (as evidenced in the real life TV exchange with Cameron) while the actor played him with an English accent.


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