ONE OF US

BBC drama One Of Us is a who­dunit based around a moral dilemma that poses the ques­tion: what would you do? Crime Scene meets writ­ing duo the Wil­liams broth­ers and the cast of a mur­der mystery that’s set to get the na­tion talk­ing.

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS - By AN­DRE PAINE

The cast and writ­ers talk mur­der and moral­ity.

With a closed cir­cle of sus­pects and iso­lated lo­ca­tion, One Of Us seems per­fectly timed for Crime Scene’s Agatha Christie spe­cial. But as broth­ers Jack and Harry Wil­liams talk to us about the se­ries fol­low­ing a screen­ing of the open­ing episode at a ho­tel in London’s Soho, it turns out there’s more to it. “There is the big coun­try house mystery in the mid­dle of nowhere dur­ing a mas­sive storm – peo­ple have said Agatha Christie to us,” says older brother Jack Wil­liams. “So it felt quite fun to have those el­e­ments – it makes it more en­joy­able over the next three hours to com­pletely sub­vert the ex­pec­ta­tion of what would hap­pen in that kind of show.”

As view­ers of 2014 se­ries The Miss­ing will know, the writ­ing duo like to play with thriller con­ven­tions: The Miss­ing, which fol­lowed a fa­ther’s search for his young son who van­ished on hol­i­day in France, had a split time­frame and an am­bigu­ous end­ing. (A sec­ond sea­son will air later in the year.) True to form, One Of Us grabs you from the start with some cun­ning mis­di­rec­tion. A touch­ing wed­ding scene of a young cou­ple plays out, but just as you an­tic­i­pate a slow build-up to the crime, the cam­era pulls back to re­veal that the mar­i­tal speeches are on a TV screen. The cou­ple in the wed­ding footage have been slaugh­tered in their liv­ing room – and a sus­pi­cious char­ac­ter is stand­ing over them with a knife.

The hor­rific dou­ble mur­der sets up a bravura open­ing from di­rec­tor Wil­liam Mcgre­gor ( Poldark), as the ac­tion shifts to the High­lands and the dead cou­ple’s two

fam­i­lies. With sweep­ing shots of the ru­ral land­scape (ac­tu­ally filmed in the Scot­tish Bor­ders), it’s in marked con­trast to the murky, down­beat feel of The Miss­ing. “Iso­la­tion’s im­por­tant both lo­gis­ti­cally to the story and emo­tion­ally, be­cause psy­cho­log­i­cally they’re iso­lated and what they’re go­ing through is some­thing no-one else can un­der­stand and re­late to,” says Jack. “I think our di­rec­tor Will did an amaz­ing job – it looks amaz­ing, it’s got a very cin­e­matic qual­ity.”

When word of the shock­ing killing of Adam Elliot and Grace Dou­glas reaches their re­mote High­lands vil­lage, One Of Us ex­plores the grief of the neigh­bour­ing fam­i­lies, fol­lowed by an act of vengeance. As Adam’s mother Louise, Juliet Steven­son ( Place Of Ex­e­cu­tion, Ac­cused) gives the sort of pow­er­ful per­for­mance you would ex­pect from such a cel­e­brated ac­tor. The TV thriller’s fo­cus on the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies “has a hu­man emo­tional con­nec­tion to it that an au­di­ence can hope­fully re­late to,” Harry tells Crime Scene.

Although it’s a bleak and dis­turb­ing open­ing, hint­ing at fam­ily se­crets and hid­den trauma, it soon be­comes clear that the Wil­liams broth­ers take the writ­ing se­ri­ously but not them­selves. At one point, Harry jokes that their part­ner­ship soured “when I slept with his wife”. Younger by a cou­ple of years, Harry is the slightly scruffier sib­ling who works more on char­ac­ter, while his brother at­tends to the struc­ture. “You’re more of a big pic­ture guy, I’m more of a de­tails man,” Jack tells him.

It’s ob­vi­ously a win­ning part­ner­ship and, as the broth­ers fin­ish one an­other’s sen­tences, they re­veal the depth of their am­bi­tion for their at­mo­spheric drama. The plot takes a twist when the drug ad­dict sus­pected of the dou­ble mur­der crashes a car in the vil­lage where the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies live. Dur­ing a rag­ing storm, they find him badly in­jured and face a dilemma. The weather con­di­tions mean they are com­pletely cut off from the emer­gency ser­vices. One Of Us raises the ques­tion: if you could take re­venge for the mur­der of a loved one, would you do it?

Of course, it’s bound to get peo­ple talk­ing about the idea of tak­ing the law into

your own hands. “What if the worst per­son in the world turns up at your door and you could get away with it?” ask the broth­ers in uni­son. Harry is hop­ing that it “sparks a con­ver­sa­tion” among the au­di­ence. The four-part se­ries is a mystery within a mystery that will cer­tainly get view­ers hooked. “I al­ways like fin­ish­ing an episode and think­ing ‘I can’t wait to watch the next one’,” says Jack. “And if we don’t have that feel­ing then no one else is go­ing to.”

As the se­ries pro­gresses, view­ers will be coming up with the­o­ries as they await the next episode – it’s eas­ily as ad­dic­tive as Broad­church. Ge­orgina Campbell, who plays the part­ner of Rob Elliot (Joe Demp­sie), is ac­tu­ally film­ing the new sea­son of Broad­church (she’s sworn to se­crecy). “I think it’s in­ter­est­ing in this that Harry and Jack have taken a genre and they’ve twisted it,” she says of One Of Us. “The mur­der mystery genre is kind of time­less; it’s just in­ter­est­ing see­ing a new adap­ta­tion of it.” The broth­ers’ thriller in­cor­po­rates other strands that “ex­plore moral­ity and what peo­ple are ca­pa­ble of”, says Harry. Claire Elliot (Joanna Van­der­ham) is asked to help with an as­sisted sui­cide, while Laura Fraser plays a cop who’s sell­ing drugs to pay for her daugh­ter’s med­i­cal treat­ment. Fraser has form when it comes to crime drama: the Scot­tish ac­tor had a role in the fi­nal sea­son of Break­ing Bad. “We liked her so much she’s also in The Miss­ing 2,” says Jack. The re­turn of The Miss­ing is set to be an in­ter­na­tional TV event. “We wanted to bring the French de­tec­tive [played by Tcheky Karyo] back – that just seemed too good an op­por­tu­nity to miss to tell a new story with him,” says Jack. How­ever, the broth­ers in­sist that One Of Us is a one-off, so they need to come up with some­thing spe­cial for the fi­nale to match the open­ing. “Hope­fully it’s a great hook,” says Harry. “But there’s more stuff go­ing on emo­tion­ally for our char­ac­ters, so for the end­ing we were much more con­cerned with the com­plex­ity of it psy­cho­log­i­cally than we were about who and why.”

“I think you’ve got to be up­front and fair with peo­ple, and al­ways as­sume they’re smarter than you,” adds Jack. “We knew where we were go­ing and we’re re­ally ex­cited about episode 4. We gen­uinely can’t wait.” Mil­lions of One Of Us view­ers can’t wait ei­ther.

The shocks keep coming – for the char­ac­ters and view­ers alike – from episode 1 on.

Harry Wil­liams and brother Jack (back to cam­era) on set.

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