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A Confession : Everything you need to know

ITV's true crime drama

Mon, October 7th, 2019

From being the ‘sidekick’ in BBC’s Sherlock, Martin Freeman will be trying his hand at sleuthing for himself in the new ITV detective drama, A Confession. The series has been written by Jeff Pope who previously won a Bafta for his craft and will showcase the story of a detective’s work while trying to find a woman who has gone missing. During this time, he finds himself face-to-face with a dangerous murderer and puts his own career on the line.

What’s more? It’s a true story.

A Confession is the chronicle of Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher who went against everything that he was taught in police protocol and procedures in order to catch the murderer he was after. However brave this may have seemed, it cost him everything – his career and his reputation.

The show is set in Wiltshire and begins with Fulcher looking into the disappearance of a young girl, Sian O’Callaghan. The 22 year old went missing after she shared a night out with her friends back in 2011. She never came home to her boyfriend, Kevin, who she shared a house with at the time. This isn’t the only case that is focused upon, however, as audiences are also introduced to Karen Edwards (Imelda Staunton) who is the mother of a missing girl, Becky who disappeared years prior to the events of the show. The distraught mother still has no clue what happened to her child but has an unsettling feeling that whatever did happen to her has something to do with Sian’s disappearance, too.

However, a new lead comes into play when the police storm on local taxi driver Christopher Halliwell and arrest him. Fulcher lives in hope that he will be able to find Sian and makes the first mistake that cost him his career. He makes the decision to question Halliwell before they bring him back to the police station and he doesn’t offer him his natural right to have access to a solicitor. Even though we know what happens to Fulcher’s career because of this mishap, something rather unexpected comes out of it, too.

Martin Freeman has spoken about the true story in an interview, stating that he stood by the real DS Fulcher and what lengths he went through to ensure that the case was solved, even if he was found guilty of misconduct and later quit. He couldn’t quite believe the story when he heard it for the first time. To prepare for the role, he sat and watched interviews with Fulcher, stating that it was fascinating, if unjust. He spoke about how sad it was that just one day could have such an impact on so many people’s lives – discovering what happened to a missing girl would be intense for the family but it also had a dramatic impact on Fulcher.

After this, Freeman then went on to meet Fulcher for himself. It’s the first time in his career  that he’s had the opportunity to meet the person that he was portraying as he has had a few roles in the past where he has played a real person. He said that he felt a sense of responsibility following this and would later text Fulcher before he began shooting scenes to ask just what he was feeling at that moment of time when he was living through it. When asked if he believed that Fulcher did the right thing, he said, As far as Steve is concerned, every decision was justifiable. If Halliwell had been brought back to the police station, his brief would have told him to say, ‘No comment.’ But Steve 
was trying to find Sian alive.

Freeman also had the chance to meet the real families of the missing girls to discuss the roles and their devastating experiences. He said that it made him fully aware that it was just pretend for him but that their lives would never be the same again. He wanted to ensure that the story wasn’t dramatised and was respectful.

Straight-speaking as ever, Freeman began to talk about the lack of police currently around due to funding cuts and redundancies. He spoke about how dismissing the ‘good ones’ alongside the bad was a mistake that could have harrowing consequences. He continued, “It’s a very dodgy road to go down, I think, for us as a society.”

Jeff Pope revealed that the story was a fascinating one to tell ‘on a number of levels’. It conflicts normal detective stories as Fulcher solved the case so therefore, was excellent at his craft. However, he felt that he had to deny Halliwell his rights as a suspect. He continues, “It brings into question how we want our police to behave when someone goes missing. Should Fulcher have been praised as a courageous officer fighting for the life of a girl, or lose his career for riding rough shod over the law?”

The writer previous won awards for his work on TV, focusing mainly on true crime series and other dramas with factual bases behind them. He was nominated for an Oscar for Philomena – although he sadly didn’t win, he was more fortunate in the Baftas where he won.

So, who else is starring alongside The Hobbit actor, Martin Freeman? While he plays the lead of DS Fulcher, his co-star is Charlie Cooper (This Country) as Kevin Reape, Sian O’Callaghan boyfriend. They are also joined by Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley) who plays Sian’s mother, Elaine and Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter) as Becky’s mother, Karen Edwards. Joe Absolom (Doc Martin) will also be playing the suspect Christopher Halliwell and Sian O’Callaghan will be played by Florence Howard.

The show began on the 2nd of September at 9pm on ITV but you can watch it on your catch-up service. There are six episodes in total for the series.

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