Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) stars as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Arthur & George.
ITV’s new three-part adaptation of Julian Barnes’s novel, based on an intriguing series of genuine events in the life of the novelist and physician who created the detective Sherlock Holmes, is written by Ed Whitmore (Silent Witness, Waking The Dead).
The cast also include Arsher Ali (The Missing) as George Edalji, Art Malik (Holby City) as his father, the Reverend Shapurji Edalji, Emma Fielding (Silk) as his mother Charlotte Edalji, Charles Edwards (Downton Abbey) as Woodie Wood, Hattie Morahan (The Bletchley Circle) as Jean Leckie and Sandra Voe (Vera Drake) as Mam.
Conan Doyle recaptures his zest for life by pursuing and challenging a notorious miscarriage of justice. It is the case of George Edalji, a hard-working solicitor and the son of Hampshire vicar, Reverend Shapurji Edalji and his wife Charlotte. George has served seven years in Pentonville Prison for allegedly mutilating animals and sending threatening letters, a series of offences which have become known as The Great Wyrley Rippings.
Following the death of his wife, Louisa, Conan Doyle has become a “bore and a sulk” by his own admission. All around him do their best to bolster Arthur from his grief and mourning including his beloved ‘Mam’ who implores him to “sink his teeth into something. If not a book then some new pursuit.”
Monday 2 March 2015, 9pm
In 1906, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is mourning the loss of his wife, Louisa. Her death, after a long and drawn out illness, has caused Arthur to slump into a guilt-ridden malaise: he fears that Louisa may have suspected that he was an adulterer, in thought if not in deed, due to his friendship with Jean Leckie.
Even writing his famous Sherlock Holmes stories cannot rouse Arthur. Then his secretary, Woodie, comes across a letter from a Mr George Edalji, a young Parsee solicitor, who was sent to prison for three years for a crime that he attains he did not commit. George wants Arthur’s help to clear his name: could this be Arthur’s chance to right a wrong?
George was convicted of a spate of sending poisonous letters and animal maimings, in the Staffordshire village of Great Wyrley, in 1903. As George relays the story of his family’s persecution, which inadvertently led to his arrest, Arthur is convinced of George’s innocence; Woodie, however, is not so sure.
Having been warned off reinvestigating the case by the very Judge who presided over George’s trial, Arthur is even more determined to discover the true culprit – the so-called ‘Wyrley Ripper’. Arthur and Woodie travel to Great Wyrley to visit George’s family, to be shown the very letters that George’s father, the Reverend Shapurji Edalji, received, supposedly from his own son.
However, Arthur and Woodie’s arrival at the Vicarage causes a bit of a stir: it seems that someone is intent on learning what they do and do not know. Could this be the Wyrley Ripper, trying to warn them off?
Monday 9 March 2015, 9pm
After the escape of their late night assailant, Arthur, Woodie and the Edaljis are surprised by the arrival of a further visitor to the Vicarage: George.
The timing of George’s visit, as well as his mud-stained boots, lead Woodie to further question whether it was in fact, George, who was the Wyrley Ripper after all. Arthur however, is not convinced: he believes that George has been the victim of racial prejudice, and possibly even police corruption.
Arthur ruffles a few feathers when he revisits the police officers who investigated the original case, to go over their evidence. However, both he and Woodie are stopped in their tracks when it seems that someone is intent on warning them off from getting further involved.
It seems that more than one victim may have fallen at the hands of the Wyrley Ripper, when the local Great Wyrley blacksmith, who also received poisonous letters at the time, is found dead.
Arthur believes the death is an instance of foul play, and is enraged when the same police officers who targeted George, ascertain it to be merely an accident. Woodie is deeply disturbed that it could be their very interest in the case, which may have led to this further bloodshed, and encourages Arthur to return home and forget his campaign. He reminds Arthur that this is not one of his Sherlock Holmes stories.
However, Arthur is determined. He then has his own doubts when it appears that George is consorting with known criminals. Is Arthur’s quest to prove George’s innocence merely a means of appeasing his own adulterer’s guilty conscience, as Jean believes?
Monday 16 March 2015, 9pm
Arthur is determined to prove all his doubters wrong, and find out for himself if George has been hiding anything. He attacks the case with renewed fervour, and manages to uncover fresh evidence that suggests a very different explanation to the one found by the police.
Woodie is at first dismayed by Arthur’s continued interest in this particular pursuit. However, Woodie is then re-convinced by Arthur that they are onto something: they may have the real culprit in their sights, and the very fact that they are so close to the truth is the reason the Wyrley Ripper has been trying this hard to put them off.
Arthur is single-minded in his resolve to take his fight to the highest echelons of the British Establishment, even if this means exposing prejudice and corruption within its ranks. He and Woodie are led into further danger though, when it seems that the Wyrley Ripper is still at large. Indeed, they could even have set themselves a new target – to outwit the creator of the world’s most famous consulting detective. Will Arthur be able to unlock the case and prove to the world that George was indeed innocent; and prove to himself that he no longer need feel any guilt and be able to move on with his life?
Watch the trailer…
Are you looking forward to Arthur & George? Let us know below…