TV critic review column on The Moors Murderers
Author(s): Paul English
Copyright holder(s): Derek Stewart-Brown: on behalf of The Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd
A PAL of mine had no idea who Myra Hindley was until Sunday night.
A 30-year-old pal. More than that. A 30-year-old pal with a decent degree from a good university who reads the posh papers and lives in the same world as the rest of us.
Before I heard this, I was in two minds about ITV's decision to dramatise a story so barbaric.
But then I remembered something Ken Stott once said in an interview about his decision to play Hitler.
Ken reckoned that we need to try to understand the Fuhrer to stop what he did from happening again.
Fair point. But not one that the likes of Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot or Slobodan Milosevic had much sympathy with, mind.
Playing one of the most despised women in history, Shameless star Maxine Peake defended the decision to turn The Moors Murders into a three-hour drama by saying it was in the public interest.
We needed to know about the loss of innocence as a nation, she said. We needed to know about how it changed the face of policing 40 years ago, and instilled in us a fear for children's safety.
Maybe. But try asking the parents of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, or the eternally-mourning mothers of Dunblane, what they got out of this two-parter.
The bald truth is that the decision to turn the bloodlust of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady into a film was doubtless made around the same boardroom tables over which Dancing On Ice viewing figures are more commonly discussed.
Seeing The Moors Murderers on the same level as, say, Trial and Retribution - as a piece of entertainment, designed to thrill, scare, and tease - is like comparing the acts of Doctor Shipman to an episode of Doctor Who.
From the critics' point of view, it's a big ask.
Even if Peake's interpretation of a sympathetically-portrayed Hindley was believable' even if the dramatic focus shifting onto the impact on Hindley's sister made watching feel less sordid, one fact remains. It's impossible to enjoy a story about adults sexually abusing and killing children, no matter how well made it is.
I have one gripe from a stylistic point of view.
Sean Harris might have filled psychopath Brady's shoes convincingly, but his Scottish accent was off the scale.
I'm sure I even heard him refer to a loch as a "lock" at one point.
Still, it highlighted one fact often lost in time - Brady is Scottish. In fact, he went to the school round the corner from my flat in Glasgow.
I'm not sure my 30-year old pal knows that either - Ian Brady is a real man who once walked the same streets as she does.
It would make for great drama - if it weren't quite so true.
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TV critic review column on The Moors Murderers. 2023. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 7 December 2023, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=1622.
"TV critic review column on The Moors Murderers." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2023. Web. 7 December 2023. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=1622.
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