Secrets and lies
Mrs Wilson DVD (Spirit Entertainment, certificate 15)
In April 1963, the writer Alexander ‘Alec’ Wilson died of a heart attack. His eventful life had encompassed teaching English literature in India, work with the intelligence services in the Second World War and success as a spy novelist. He also found time to marry four times, yet apparently didn’t have the time to get divorced, making Wilson a serial bigamist.
Even today, many of the details of his life are sketchy, in part because the authorities have yet to release records related to his secret work. Nevertheless, enough is known to make for compelling drama – as this BBC series starring Ruth Wilson as Alison, Alec Wilson’s third wife and Ruth’s own grandmother, demonstrates. Told largely in flashback, the drama begins with the death of Wilson (Iain Glen), soon followed by the shock of his first wife, Gladys Wilson (Elizabeth Rider), paying Alison a visit. Suddenly uncertain as to whether she really knew the man to whom she was married, Alison starts to look back at their shared past in the 1940s. It’s hard to tell how much is historically accurate, but that’s not really the point of this atmospheric and moving account of how the past can haunt the present.
Ruth Wilson plays her own grandmother in a complex family drama