The thrill of the kill

’40s se­rial killer John Christie is mov­ing in and be­ing brought back to life three-episode thriller Rillington Place.

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Rillington Place Sea­son 1 Wed­nes­days (from 21 June) BBC First (*119) 20:00

“The idea of tak­ing on John Christie was a chal­lenge. I’ve never played any­thing like this be­fore,” warns Tim Roth (Cal Light­man in drama se­ries Lie To Me, 2009-2011). And his role as the se­rial killer in the three­ep­isode thriller se­ries Rillington Place (2016) is all the more chill­ing be­cause it hap­pened in the real world of 1940s Lon­don. “John de­ceived the pub­lic and he de­ceived peo­ple close to him. He mur­dered with vir­tual im­punity,” adds Tim. “He used and abused his power [as a war vet­eran] and was al­lowed to go on his merry way. The po­lice work was shoddy. They missed so much as they weren’t look­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

MIND YOUR BUSI­NESS

Tim says that the most dif­fi­cult part was get­ting into the head of “Rillington Stran­gler” John [his nick­name is a ref­er­ence to his method of mur­der – ei­ther by strangulation or gassing]. “He was a psy­chopath. I knew facts – I was born in 1961, so it was re­cent his­tory. Up to a point, you can peel away lay­ers but you can’t get to his core.” The real John fought in World War 1 but was in­jured in a gas at­tack. He spent three years as a mute, claim­ing that the loud ex­plo­sions and trauma left him un­able to talk louder than a whis­per – so lis­ten up when Tim’s talk­ing on the se­ries!

AT HIS MERCY

John’s wife Ethel (Sam Mor­ton, Naomi in crime drama The Last Pan­thers, 2015) re­unites with her es­tranged hus­band as they move into 10 Rillington Place. She knows that he isn’t men­tally sta­ble but Ethel doesn’t know that he’s a killer un­til it’s too late. John’s tenant Beryl Evans (Jodie Comer, Ivy in drama minis­eries Thir­teen, 2016) is mur­dered by John but her hus­band con­fesses to killing preg­nant Beryl and their young daugh­ter. Tim Evans (Nico Mi­ral­le­gro, Joe in pe­riod drama The Vil­lage, 2013-2014) tells the po­lice that John stran­gled his fam­ily but he’s ar­rested in­stead. His “con­fes­sion” is ru­moured to be faked by the po­lice to close the case and he’s hanged af­ter his con­tro­ver­sial trial.

Se­rial killer John Christie is brought to life in chill­ing de­tail.

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