‘Rillington Place’ – episode 2, BBC 6 December 2016

Now that the second of the three episodes of the BBC’s 2016 drama series Rillington Place has aired, it becomes clearer that the so-called ‘Standard Version’ of events – that is, the account embodied in Ludovic Kennedy’s 1961 book Ten Rillington Place – has, as expected, been used as the basis. As before, the atmospherics and portrayals are exceedingly good and make for chilling and impressive viewing – even the apparent discrepancies about Timothy Evans’s seemingly variable accent has been explained as symptomatic of his ‘chameleon’ persona and desire for acceptance, which sounds plausible although observations have been made, by those in a position to have knowledge, that his accent was indeed Welsh and, thus, this portrayal is actually erroneous. 

But, for those who also share a desire to know and understand more of the truth of what really happened, it must be borne in mind that Kennedy’s avowed intention was to ‘make the case against Christie’ and anything that contributed to that was used in his book whilst things that ran counter to his narrative were apt to be overlooked or dismissed. For example, there was never any evidence that Christie was involved in abortion – indeed, a statement made by the police declared that he was not – and, at autopsy, Beryl Evans was found to have been neither gassed nor sexually assaulted, and there was no evidence of attempted abortion.

The research that I have long carried out in the preparation of my book led me to the view that the Standard Version is probably the least likely account of what really took place. My analysis endeavours to set out all the reasons that make Christie a more knowledgeable participant in the Evans murders than he admitted at the time, for reasons that become clear, but not the actual killer.

We now have another week to await the final episode which I, as with many others, will be watching with great interest.

4 thoughts on “‘Rillington Place’ – episode 2, BBC 6 December 2016

  1. Hi John,
    I have just finished reading your book and as a long standing student of the events of 10 Rillington Place, I must congratulate you on this work. Like you I became interested in the subject at an early age, being just 11 when seeing Christie’s waxwork at Madame Tussaud’s in 1975. I immediately developed a fascination with the case as it took place in the locality that my parents and grandparents grew up in.
    I am, probably like you, a stickler for facts and accuracy, and as such can be a killjoy to watch dramatisations with, as my family can attest!
    Thank you for your work John. I would love to chat to you at some point.
    Yours sincerely,
    Paul Mitchell

    • Hello Paul,

      Many thanks indeed for the kind words – we appear to have had parallel experiences as I can still remember the erstwhile tableau at Madame Tussaud’s and the sinister effect it had.

      My original intention was just to find out a bit more rather than mount anything resembling a crusade – but once one starts, it becomes increasingly apparent how little of what one ‘knows’ is really borne out by the research. Inevitably, I took copious notes during the three BBC drama episodes but the exercise goes far beyond mere error-spotting and into much more fundamental, structural areas which the book should hopefully go some way towards addressing. I’m sure it will continue to keep me occupied for quite some time to come!

      Kind regards,

      John

  2. Hi John, Just finished reading your book The Murders, Myths and Reality of 10 Rillington Place. Great read. I also found the BBC drama Rillington Place well done despite a number of errors and the street being rather short!!! One question I do have for you. When you carried out your research did you come across any record of the original police interviews being recorded?……Obviously these would never be released to the public but I’ve always wondered how close Attenborough and Roth were to Christie’s voice…..

    • Hello Richard,

      Many thanks for the posting and I’m very glad to hear that you have found the book worthwhile. The question of the original police interviews having been recorded has been raised in the past but I have found nothing anywhere to suggest that such a record was ever taken or now exists alas. The period concerned does, of course, pre-date the routine recording of police interrogations by something like 35-40 years and even the court transcripts were created manually and without assistance from anything much in the way of ‘technology’. My own suspicion is that the two characterisations of Christie’s voice are pretty close – Attenborough’s possibly slightly more so – whereas I think John Hurt as Evans was probably closer to reality in 1970 than the ‘hybrid’ version heard in the recent drama.
      Again, thank you for the positive feedback – I will be endeavouring to post more here as and when when points of interest arise.
      John

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