The cast changes at Britain’s second-highest-rated soap opera are accelerated by murder.
When Vernon Watts accidentally steps in front of a bus, his fellow actors on the long-running Jubilee Terrace, who never cared much for him, are less upset than hopeful that their own story lines will surge to fill the gap. An anonymous letter suggesting foul play brings Leeds Inspector Charlie Peace (A Fall from Grace, 2007, etc.) to the studio, but nothing more criminal than scene-stealing turns up until troublemaker Hamish Fawley, newly returned to the series, and his latest romantic conquest are burned to a crisp in his bed. Hamish had antagonized everybody with his sarcasm, his disdain for their talent and his romping through their boudoirs just for spite. Bill Garrett, who plays a pub owner, had lost his wife to Hamish, and the pair were threatening to ask for custody of the Garrett daughters. The director who’d brought Hamish back to the fold may have been forced to act by a deftly worded bit of blackmail. All the actors, of course, are adept at faking innocence, and their televised personas merge seductively with their real-life situations. Charlie nonetheless finds his way past a false confession and a rigged alibi to identify the scourge of Jubilee Terrace.
Witty, wry and a great deal of back-biting fun until Barnard opts for a wrenching denouement.