The third and final episode opens with a brief recap on last week’s death of Beryl Evans and a short sequence in which the Notting Hill police are pressing Timothy Evans to confess (although the official records, still in existence and held at The National Archives, reveal that the confessions were volunteered and received in an atmosphere of calm and restraint. Evans himself made no allegations against the police of any duress, undue influence or aggression).
We then start to hear the rather incongruous-seeming strains of Whispering Grass (Don’t Tell The Trees) – a popular song first heard on the radio in 1940. As in previous episodes, the scene-setting and atmosphere are convincing and authentic-feeling. Christie is again depicted as being stooped and shuffling whereas he was known to be relatively tall and of a brisk and upright – somewhat military – bearing (and only wearing glasses in the latter years of his life).
The scene then moves to the Old Bailey and the Evans murder trial in March 1950 with Christie giving evidence; his testifying to the drunken rows between Beryl and Timothy Evans, police attendance at the house and the attempt by him to push her out of their upstairs (kitchen) window were all witnessed and documented as true, as was Christie’s complaint of physical incapacity from fibrositis. Indeed, he really was permitted by the judge to sit whilst giving evidence. But there is no record of Christie having consulted his GP, Dr Odess, during the trial in order to avoid giving evidence – he was thought to have rather enjoyed his role as reluctant ‘star witness’. This depressive episode actually came well after the end of the trial and was partly a consequence of trouble with neighbours in the house itself and for which he and Ethel had been prescribed the sedative phenobarbitone. The trial then proceeds along the general lines of the transcript. Later on, Christie is recalled to the witness box and reference is made to his last conviction being in 1938 whereas it was actually 1933 (for the theft of a motor car).
A subsequent scene, in which Ethel becomes agitated and angry with Christie, and makes a direct accusation of him having killed baby Geraldine, is an invention and not congruent what is known of Ethel’s demeanour and relationship with her husband or the chronology of events on 8 November 1949 and following days.
Christie’s final victim Hectorina Mackay Maclennan (known as ‘Ina’ rather than ‘Rina’ as depicted) is killed a few days prior to his final departure from the house at the end of March 1953. Finally, Christie’s dog is shown as being abandoned in a park whereas it was actually taken to a local man in Ladbroke Grove to be put down on the very last day of Christie’s time in the house.
In summary, as before, the entire production is of great quality with some sure-to-be-award-winning performances, especially by Tim Roth as Christie. The story rightly describes itself as ‘based upon real events’ and somewhat follows the ‘Standard Version’ which is generally accepted as being the truth of what really happened. For better or worse, this production will lend much further weight to the belief in what may well be a misrepresentation of what actually took place. However one might wish otherwise, the deeper, impartial analysis of all the available material inevitably leads one towards the sense that there really was no miscarriage of justice.