Magic Mo­ments: TV gold from this week in 1974, 1993 & 2000

TV Times - - Front Page -

He was, his ex­as­per­ated lover DS Jane Pen­haligon once re­marked, the kind of man who could ‘spot a guilty cough in a foot­ball crowd but not know if World War Three was break­ing out in his liv­ing room’.

Crim­i­nal psy­chol­o­gist Dr Ed­die ‘Fitz’ Fitzger­ald, the bril­liant and un­con­ven­tional hero of pow­er­ful crime drama Cracker, was a ge­nius at work­ing out what made a crim­i­nal tick, but his pri­vate life was a mess. He was over­weight and he drank, smoked and gam­bled com­pul­sively. His wife Ju­dith (Bar­bara Flynn) walked out on him and he had a tem­pes­tu­ous af­fair with the long-suf­fer­ing Pen­haligon (Geral­dine Somerville), who had the task of chap­er­on­ing him while he as­sisted the po­lice in their en­quiries.

Yet, for all his flaws, view­ers loved him. Rob­bie Coltrane’s mag­nif­i­cent, larger-than-life per­for­mance, to­gether with cre­ator Jimmy Mcgovern’s un­com­pro­mis­ing sto­ry­telling, turned Cracker into one of ITV’S big­gest drama hits of the 1990s.

The first story, The Mad Woman in the At­tic, fea­tured a series of grue­some ra­zor mur­ders on trains, with Fitz us­ing in­tu­ition and sheer bloody-mind­ed­ness to prove the am­ne­siac prime sus­pect, Thomas Kelly (Adrian Dun­bar), was in­no­cent.

The dark and dis­turb­ing tone con­tin­ued, no more so than the har­row­ing episode To Be a Some­body, in which DCI David Bil­bor­ough (Christo­pher Ec­cle­ston) was stabbed to death.

‘Peo­ple seemed sur­prised that I should have wanted to leave,’ re­called Christo­pher later. ‘But leav­ing played right into Jimmy’s hands be­cause Cracker never gave you what you ex­pected. Bil­bor­ough’s death was per­fect Cracker.’

In 2006, fol­low­ing a 10year hia­tus, Rob­bie, by then an in­ter­na­tional star thanks to the Harry Pot­ter films, reprised the role of Fitz one last time. Was the way­ward ge­nius, TV Times won­dered, some­one the ac­tor liked?

‘He’s a guy you’d like to go drink­ing with,’ mused Rob­bie, who is cur­rently star­ring in C4’s Na­tional Trea­sure. ‘But would he be the type of per­son I’d like to share a flat with? I don’t think so. He wouldn’t do the dishes and he’d prob­a­bly eat the sausages you’d been sav­ing for break­fast!’

As Fitz, Rob­bie probed in­side many head cases

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