BAND OF GOLD. (1995-1997) A GRITTY, SEXY TV SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BAND OF GOLD. 1995-1997. CREATED AND WRITTEN BY KAY MELLOR. PRODUCED BY GRANADA TELEVISION.

STARRING GERALDINE JAMES, CATHY TYSON, BARBARA DIXON, SAMANTHA MORTON, RACHEL DAVIES, LENA HEADEY, FIONA ALLEN, TONY DOYLE, DAVID SCHOFIELD, RAY STEVENSON AND RICHARD MOORE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I absolutely love this drama series about a group of sex workers who live and work in Bradford’s red-light district. They work a particular patch known as ‘the Lane,’ or, more correctly, they work ‘on t’ lane,’ if you can do the accent, and God help you if you’re a young ‘un who tries to ‘work t’ lane’ without the permission of Rose, an older prostitute who’s in charge of t’ lane, see?

Rose, brilliantly played by Geraldine James, is the original tart with a heart. She’s had a hard life, has poor Rose, but she still manages to be kind and compassionate towards her fellow sex workers. She makes numerous attempts to better herself and ‘get off t’ lane’ by going to college, starting up a cleaning company with her mates on t’ lane and taking a job as a local outreach worker, with varying results.

The biggest tragedy of Rose’s life is that she gave away her baby twenty-odd years ago, and she’s never stopped wanting that baby back. She goes in search of her child, who’s now a young woman, and when she finds her is gobsmacked to find that the apple, in this case, hasn’t fallen very far from the tree. Will Rose dare to make herself known to the emotionally damaged and dangerous S&M specialist her little girl has grown up to be…?

Gobby Carol, played by Cathy Tyson, is a terrific character. She works t’lane so that her beloved daughter Emma doesn’t have to go without, and she’s had to learn to be as hard as nails to survive as a black single mum sex worker in Bradford, not a particularly rich city to begin with.

Her illicit affair with DCI Newall, the copper in charge of investigating the murder of Carol’s hooker friend Gina, is a bit sick and twisted. I like the guy, but does he actually give a genuine toss about Carol or is he only sleeping with her because he has a self-confessed thing for sex with black women? It’s hard to tell. (Gina’s mum Joyce and abusive ex-husband Steve have sex together after Gina’s death, by the way, they’re such a lovely pair!)

Carol’s other admirer is sausage-maker ‘Curly,’ terrifically played by Richard Moore who was Jarvis Skelton in EMMERDALE from 2000-2005. Curly has a stocking fetish, and pays Carol a generous sum of money to simply ‘walk’ for him, up and down and round t’ living-room wi’ stockings and high heels on. Well, it beats walking up and down t’ bloody lane in all weathers, I suppose…!

Anita Braithwaite, played by Scottish chanteuse Barbara Dickson, is an hilarious character. Talk about loose lips sink ships. She’s the biggest gossip going. For God’s sake don’t tell her your secrets, because she’s got a gob on her like the Mersey tunnel, that one. You just ask Rose or Carol.

Anita’s the mistress of rich but dodgy (is there any other kind?) married businessman George Ferguson (Irish actor Tony Doyle, sadly deceased since 2000), who treats her shabbily, and she lets the prozzies from t’ lane use her flat for indoor sex with their punters. It’s safer than going off in a car with a total stranger, innit?

That was the modus operandi of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, who, only a decade-and-a-half earlier, had been terrorising both prostitutes and non-prostitutes for real in the Leeds-Bradford area. He cruised the area in his car looking for victims and was interviewed several times by police and cleared, before eventually being properly nabbed in 1981.

When poor little prostitute Tracy, the saddest of all the sex workers, gets bashed on the head by an unknown assailant and left for dead in a patch of waste-ground, there won’t be many viewers who won’t immediately think of Peter Sutcliffe and his reign of terror from the mid-Seventies to 1981.

Peter Sutcliffe is not mentioned in the script, as far as I know, but he casts a shadow over it nonetheless. I wonder if he was allowed to watch BAND OF GOLD in t’ nick, and if he was sexually excited by it. Ted Bundy got a thrill from examining crime scene/victim photos, after all. Shudder. What a slimy thought.

Superbly played by Samantha Morton, Tracy, as I said, is the saddest of all the hookers who work t’ lane. She’s only fifteen, and she ran away from her luxurious home because she couldn’t take her father’s sexual abuse any longer. On drugs and taken advantage of by every man who buys her services, she doesn’t even seem to care what happens to her.

Carol and Rose have gumption and a bit of get-up-and-go in them. They want to better themselves and they’re trying to do it, even if their efforts sometimes go tits-up. But Tracy is a tragic figure. She’d rather someone physically hurt her, just so that she can feel something and know she’s alive. And look who she goes to looking for love! Someone as damaged and emotionally fragile as herself, but dangerous with it…

The first two series of BAND OF GOLD are top-notch. The third series, or spin-off if you like, GOLD, is as batty and incomprehensible as the last days of BROOKSIDE. I do really like the transsexual prostitute Sherrie, who’s only working t’ lane to save up the money for her final sex-change operation.

When Sherrie is brutally raped by a man in very high places, the show deftly details the difficulties inherent in charging a rich white older man with the rape of a young black transsexual prostitute. I mean, who are the cops gonna believe? Exactly. Nicely handled, BAND OF GOLD.

Popular actress Sue Cleaver, better known as Eileen Grimshaw from CORONATION STREET, has a small recurring role in the series as the barmaid in the boozer where all the girls and pimps from t’ lane gather for a bevvy. In 2000, she coincidentally plays a copper in the mini-series THIS IS PERSONAL: THE HUNT FOR THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER. There’s that Yorkshire Ripper connection we were talking about earlier again…

By the way, check out Carol in that dreadful multi-coloured Versace outfit that no doubt costs a small fortune. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, right? Common is as common does, lol. Or maybe it would be more apt to say that you can take the girl out of the estate…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

ANOTHER BOUQUET (OF BARBED WIRE): THE 1977 SEQUEL TO THE SEXY, CONTROVERSIAL TV SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bouquet 2

ANOTHER BOUQUET (OF BARBED WIRE). (1977) BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF ANDREA NEWMAN. MADE BY LONDON WEEKEND TELEVISION. DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY TONY WHARMBY AND JOHN FRANKAU.

STARRING FRANK FINLAY, SHEILA ALLEN, SUSAN PENHALIGON, JAMES AUBREY, DEBORAH GRANT, ERIC CARTE, CAROL DRINKWATER AND PHILIP MADOC.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Hmmm. Well. I loved this second instalment of the BOUQUET OF BARBED WIRE television series nearly as much as the first, but I’m not at all happy with the way it’s turned out. Some absolutely mad stuff happens to some of the characters that I can’t believe they’d be happy to go along with, but then, it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world we live in and, who knows, maybe they are happy, the bunch of crazy loons.

Poor Peter Eliot Manson is in a bad way. Still separated from the saintly Cassie and living in the flat he bought for his former mistress Sarah Francis, he’s obsessed with his dreams and thoughts of his daughter Prue and seems to be gradually losing touch with reality. He tries to concentrate on Prue’s little girl, his grand-daughter, but she’s not a patch on Prue, unfortunately, and she won’t compensate Peter for his daughter’s absence.

He’s revolted to the pit of his stomach to find that his wife, Cassie, has been sleeping with the son-in-law he loathes, Gavin, and furthermore, that the affair started when the pregnant Prue was in hospital after being beaten up by Gavin. He sees Gavin as having murdered his beloved daughter and ruined his marriage. No wonder he wants to biff him in the schnozz…

Annoying goody-two-shoes Cassie is hurt beyond belief that bad boy Gavin, Prue’s widower and the baby’s father, has ditched his older girlfriend (Cassie) for a new woman. It was bound to happen. She should never have hooked up with him in the first place, and her a respectable married woman in her forties (at least!).

She loses no time in hooking up with Gavin’s new girlfriend Vicky’s father, a Dr. Lewis, a really annoying, commitment-phobic man who is not ashamed to admit that he has two other women on the go as well. Cassie thinks she can be modern enough and mature enough to put up with this bullshit, but I’m telling you now that she won’t. No woman worth her salt would.

Gavin has a really sick relationship with his new girlfriend Vicky, who seems to be as masochistic as Prue was. ‘Do anything you want to me, Gavin, only please love me!’ The relationship is not a healthy one, and the worst part about it is that Gavin doesn’t give a shit about poor unloved hippy chick Vicky. (Her father, Dr. ‘Freelove’ Lewis, is horribly neglectful towards her too.)

All she is to the carelessly cruel Gavin is a free babysitter and sex on tap when he feels like it. Elizabeth ‘There is only ice in the ice house’ Romilly is excellent in the role of deeply troubled Vicky. In choosing Gavin to love, she’s only replicating the loveless relationship she has with her selfish bastard of a father.

The most frustrating thing of all about this sequel was the fate of my favourite character, Sarah Francis, Peter’s former secretary and mistress. Even now, she keeps muddying the waters by continuing to sleep with Peter behind the back of her rich handsome blond husband, Geoff, who is extremely loving towards her and lenient about her independent ways and all the time she spends away from him ‘getting a bit of space.’ Space, my eye!

Anyway, Sarah discovers she’s pregnant and, instead of plumping for living a privileged, charmed life as Rich Geoff’s adored wife (did I mention he was rich?), she goes off and deliberately chooses a really stupid and probably temporary alternative which will possibly put Geoff off her forever. Well, it serves her right, if she’s actually going to be that irresponsible about her future…!

She’s self-sabotaging big-time because somewhere deep down inside her, she doesn’t think she deserves to be happy or loved. This course she’s chosen now won’t yield any love or fulfilment, just more of the punishment she probably feels she has coming to her. And, who knows, maybe she’s in love with the drama and excitement of it all as well, the excitement of living such an undisciplined and unstructured life. I wash my hands of the whole thing.

Did anyone notice the way the baby is treated in the series, by the way? Apart from, obviously, as the poor parcel in ‘pass the bleedin’ parcel…!’ They keep putting her down on her tummy to sleep, which, yes, you’re right, that’s what they thought was best back then, but it’s since been proven to be a bit of a big fat no-no.

Also, Cassie keeps putting the baby out in the garden on a blanket (on her tummy, of course!) while she herself goes back into the house to do the washing-up or read the paper, and the front gate is wide open so anyone who wants to can come into the garden and steal the baby, which actually happens in the series. It causes a big furore, but you can’t say that it doesn’t serve Cassie and Gavin right…!

Also, when Gavin tells Cassie that Vicky’s lost her temper with the baby and shaken her a little bit, Cassie brushes it off and says it’s nothing. Oh, she says, I used to shake Prue and the boys all the time when they were babies, it didn’t do them any harm…! I’m just glad that times have changed since then, that’s all I’m saying.

Peter’s ending is incredibly sad. I cried buckets at it. How I would have loved another sequel, but some things are finite and that’s that. I know there was a re-make of the series in 2010, but I can’t imagine myself wanting to watch it, having seen the excellent and incomparable original series. Why re-make everything, anyway, instead of creating something new? Some things are perfectly fine just as they are.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

HOLOCAUST. (1978) THE TV MINI-SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

holocaust meryl streep

HOLOCAUST. (1978) CREATED AND WRITTEN BY GERALD GREEN. DIRECTED BY MARVIN J. CHOMSKY.

STARRING MERYL STREEP, JAMES WOODS, MICHAEL MORIARTY, FRITZ WEAVER, ROSEMARY HARRIS, JOSEPH BOTTOMS, MARIUS GORING, TOM BELL, IAN HOLM, CYRIL SHAPS, ANTHONY HAYGARTH, SAM WANAMAKER AND DAVID WARNER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This magnificent television dramatisation of some of history’s darkest and most shameful events clocks in at a whopping four hundred and forty six minutes, or five easily digestible ninety minute blocks.

It’s the story of two fictional families in wartime Germany, the Weiss family and the Dorf family, and how they were both affected by Hitler’s coming to power in Germany, his anti-Jewish laws and his World War that laid waste to most of Europe.

The Weiss family are Jewish, and the Dorfs are not, and therein lies the reason why the lives of two such ordinary German families could have run along such divergent lines in the exact same time period, intersecting nonetheless in places during times of the most dreadful stress and terror.

Let’s get right down to business. Joseph and Berta Weiss are a typical German couple for the time, wealthy, cultured, civilised and decent people who love their children, Karl, Anna and Rudi, and want only the best for them.

When we meet them first, the Weisses are celebrating the mixed marriage (already frowned upon by the Nazis unofficially; soon to be outlawed in Germany by law) of their eldest son Karl, an artist (James Woods) to Inga Helms (Meryl Streep), a beautiful German Christian woman.

Every time Hitler and his Nazis, whom the Weisses are too genteel to call thugs and barbarians outright, lay down another anti-Jewish law, Joseph and Berta tell themselves that it won’t go on for much longer, that, after all, they’re Germans too, aren’t they, and Hitler couldn’t really mean them to be banished from their own country like lepers, could he…?

Berta’s Jewish Pops, a delightful old ex-soldier who proudly displays the Iron Cross he won for fighting for his country (Germany) in World War One, thinks that Germany isn’t stupid enough and cruel enough to treat her loyal German war veterans, regardless of their religion, like vermin. He finds out differently on the black, black night that history refers to as ‘Kristallnacht,’ or ‘The Night Of Broken Glass…’

Berta and Joseph leave it too late to flee Germany. This is partly down to Berta, a classical pianist and a gentle, peace-loving kind-hearted woman, who keeps stubbornly reiterating that she’s German, they’re all Germans, and this is their country too. Why should they up sticks and leave Germany to those jack-booted, black-suited thugs, the Nazis?

By the time her beloved husband, a doctor who’d go to any lengths to help someone in need, is deported to Poland to what eventually becomes the Warsaw Ghetto, Berta realises her mistake. They should all have read the signs and fled Germany when they had the chance…

Her son Karl has been arrested purely on the grounds of being Jewish and sent to Buchenwald, a concentration camp. Her daughter Anna has already suffered a terrible fate at the hands of the Nazis, and even Berta, her mother, doesn’t know just how terrible it is. Berta’s youngest son Rudi has run off to join the partisans, although his mother hasn’t a clue where he is or what he’s doing. She mightn’t ever even see him again.

Rudi, by the way, is a great character. No way is he going meekly like a lamb to the slaughter, as he sees his fellow Jews doing. He’s going to fight those bastard Nazis, and he’ll damn well make sure he takes as many of them down with him as we can. It’s good to have fighters like him and Uncle Sasha and Uncle Moses in a film that touches painfully on the awkward subject of Jewish apathy in the face of Nazi hostilities.

Inga is having to submit to being raped repeatedly by a Nazi in order to get her letters through to Karl in Buchenwald and, when Karl finds out what she’s had to endure to contact him, the ungrateful bastard turns against her. She even gets herself sent to Theresienstadt later on to be near him (he’s working here in their artist’s studio, believe it or not)but he still isn’t grateful for all her sacrifices. I’d leave him to rot where he is, seriously.

Erik Dorf is a handsome young lawyer and father of two who is looking for work. He joins the Nazi party because he needs a job, and also because his fanatical wife Marta is extremely ambitious for him and she thinks that ‘the Party’ is the way to go for their little family.

Erik doesn’t feel like he’s cut out to swagger about in a fancy Nazi uniform, pushing people about, but he gets used to it remarkably quickly. He quickly rises through the ranks after becoming invaluable to Reinhard Heydrich (David Warner doesn’t look much like this young blond god!), the man tasked with carrying out Hitler’s ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Problem.’

Erik’s involvement in ‘Kristallnacht’ earns him a promotion. Before too much time has elapsed, he’s Major Dorf, with a sort of travelling commission as part of the Concentration Camp Inspectorate. His job seems to be speeding up the killing process and making the camps more efficient as death factories.

We see him assisting Rudolf Höss, the Commandant of Auschwitz, with the introduction of Zyklon B, the pesticide used to gas millions of Jews. We see him attending a demonstration of the gas in action (‘Fantastic, utterly fantastic! It’s like a scene from Dante’s Inferno.’), against real people, and we can tell he hasn’t the stomach for it. Is this because he feels that what he’s doing is inherently wrong, or because he’s simply squeamish?

From time to time, we get the impression that Erik Dorf knows he’s going to hell for what he and his precious ‘Party’ have done, and yet there are other times when he can stand and impassively watch an atrocity taking place without batting an eyelid, such as when he’s a witness to the murder of 30,000 Jews at Babi Yar in the Ukraine in 1941. He’s fascinated at the way in which they passively go to their deaths, but I guess we’d all be the same if a bunch of guys were pointing machine-guns at us.

He constantly parrots the Nazi and SS mantra, that he’s only following orders, orders from above, orders from the highest office in the land. Does he really believe that it’s okay to murder women and children though, just on the basis that he’s ‘following orders?’ Does he really believe that blindly following orders justifies the massacres he constantly oversees?

Sometimes it looks like there’s a flicker of remorse behind his dead fish eyes but then, at other times, he’s a blank, a robot, an automaton. He’s the most important character in the show, in my opinion, because he helps us to see the logic, if you can call it that, behind the actions of the perpetrators of the Holocaust.

And, no matter what Dorf tries to make out after it’s all over, he’s a perpetrator. Even his wife, who makes her husband join the Nazi Party so she won’t have to stand in line at the butchers’ for the best cuts of meat any more, is a perpetrator. She makes Erik turn away Dr. Weiss when he comes to them for help when Karl has been arrested and incarcerated in Buchenwald. Goddammit, she’s nearly as much of a perpetrator as he is.

The mini-series does an excellent job of portraying the different situations that arose during the time of the Holocaust. We see the concentration camps, the Sonderkommando (the work details of Jewish prisoners who attended the gassings and afterwards burned the bodies in the crematoria) and the actual killing machinery. We see the Warsaw ghetto and the brave men who tried to defend it at the end. (Uncle Moses, you ROCK, and so does that old Rabbi who’s with you at the end!!!)

We see the Jewish Council (or Judenrat), of which Dr. Joseph Weiss is a member, having to select six thousand people a day to go on the dreaded transportations out of the ghetto to the death camps. We actually see the Jews on these transportations being bullshitted by the Nazis regarding this so-called ‘resettlement in the East.’ It’s not so bad, it’s only a work camp, and families can stay together, see? A wonderful new life awaits everyone in the East, now all aboard…

We see the Jews chosen by the Nazis to ‘police’ the ghettos, and we know how they too end up. ‘Don’t worry, Dr. Weiss, it’ll be my turn soon enough…’ We see the smuggling of food that went on in the ghetto even though the Nazis forbade it, but without the smugglers, even more people would have died in the gutters of starvation, a horrible slow death that no-one deserves.

We see the liquidation of the ghettos and how it was achieved, albeit with much bloodshed on both sides. We also see the Nazis’ T4 Euthanasia Programme (of the sick, the old and the disabled) in action, even though we might feel better for never having seen it at all.

We see Rudi taking part in the Sobibor concentration camp uprising and escape in October 1943, and his brother Karl being tortured by the Nazis over paintings he does in Theresienstadt that accurately represent the various desperate situations in the concentration camps, instead of the nice happy paintings commissioned by the Nazis.

We see how Theresienstadt in Prague was used as the ‘model’ concentration camp, trotted out whenever the International Committee of the Red Cross (the ICRC) wanted to send a few inspectors in. ‘Oh, we didn’t see any signs of any maltreatment,’ they invariably said when they’d completed their inspections there.

Well, d’uh! That’s what the Nazis wanted them to think. They went to a lot of trouble, with their fake coffee shops and their fake post office and their fake bank and their fake happy healthy prisoners, to make sure that the ICRC thought just what they wanted them to think.

The Jews are getting on grand here, the ICRC always said after a visit. They never seemed to question the right of the Nazis to imprison the Jews in the first place, but never mind. As long as they never saw any signs of maltreatment when they inspected the camps, well, I guess that’s all right then…

Tom Bell is utterly odious here as Adolf Eichmann, the number-cruncher of the entire Holocaust, and Ian Holm (Bilbo Baggins to you!) almost unrecognisable as Himmler, the third point of the ‘Final Solution’ triumvirate that had Eichmann and Heydrich as the other two points.

The assassination of Heydrich takes place off-screen, ditto the murder of a German bureaucrat/diplomat called Ernst Vom Rath by the Jewish Herschel Grynszpan, that prompted the shattering events of ‘Kristallnacht.’ 

Two one-off members of the cast of ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em,’ starring Michael Crawford as the hapless Frank Spencer, can be seen in HOLOCAUST in small but important roles. See if you can guess which two…!

The whole mini-series is pretty much faultless. James Woods as Karl Weiss is a terrible husband- frankly Inga would be better off with that fat Nazi (a ‘fatzi?’) Heinz Mueller- but other than that I’ve no complaints. Top-notch viewing, recommended viewing in fact for students of the Holocaust. It certainly proves the point that, for bad men to triumph, all it takes is for good folks to do nothing…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

SEE NO EVIL: THE MOORS MURDERS. (2006) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

myra maureen

SEE NO EVIL: THE MOORS MURDERS. (2006) BASED ON TRUE EVENTS.

DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER MENAUL. WRITTEN BY NEIL MCKAY.

STARRING SEAN HARRIS, MAXINE PEAKE, JOANNE FROGGATT, MATTHEW MCNULTY, GEORGE COSTIGAN , SUSAN TWIST AND JOHN HENSHAW.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Does a dog have a soul…?’

This one originally aired on ITV over the course of two nights in 2006, and I’d say there was hardly a family in the whole of England and Ireland that wasn’t glued to it. I was watching it myself and I thought it was phenomenally well done, despite the horrific subject matter. Having re-visited it recently as a two-hour-and-seventeen-minute film, the impact was no less powerful.

It’s the story of the infamous Moors Murders as seen through the eyes of Myra Hindley’s younger sister Maureen, whom Myra called Mo or Moby and genuinely seemed to love, if such a cold-hearted woman could be deemed capable of love.

It’s 1963 and the death of her baby Angela Dawn with David Smith, her young husband, sees a distraught Maureen turning to her older sister Myra for comfort. A side-effect of Myra and Maureen’s spending more time together is that David Smith and Ian Brady are thrown together a lot too.

At first, David isn’t terribly keen on Ian, an egotistical show-off proud of his high intellect and the fact that he’s well-read. Ian loves an audience. He spouts a lot of nonsense about philosophy, relativism (whatever that is) and existentialism that goes right over Dave’s head at first. As it did mine, I must say.

Gradually Ian, with his narrow, pinched-looking nose and cruelly thin lips, gets inside Dave’s head. He gives Dave books to read by the Marquis de Sade, books that Ian has studied carefully himself along with books on Nazi ideology and Nazi atrocities.

Dave finds himself reading about the rape and physical abuse and torture of young women, but his wife Maureen tells him that she can’t understand how either he, Dave, or Ian for that matter, can get their kicks out of reading about men beating and/or raping women. We don’t know what Dave makes of all this but it’s pretty obvious how Ian feels on the subject.

Ian and David plan a bank robbery together, unknown to Maureen but not to Myra, who will drive their getaway car. (Ian doesn’t drive, you see.) They take guns out onto the nearby Saddleworth Moor for shooting practice.

The four young people, Ian, Myra, Maureen and Dave, spend a lot of time out on the beautiful wild Moors because it’s Ian’s and Myra’s favourite place. Maureen is heard to remark that she doesn’t know what they see in the cold, windy expanse of grass and muck.

I can certainly see the attraction of moors, they’re wild and windy and gloriously sort of primeval as in Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS, but these moors in particular are hiding Ian and Myra’s grim secrets.

During a drunken conversation between Ian and David, Ian reveals that he has killed people in the past and, what’s more, that David has unwittingly stood on their graves out on the Moors. Dave doesn’t know what to believe at first. Then he decides that it’s all just big talk on Ian’s part as usual. He’s a boaster and a show-off, after all.

Dave changes his mind when Ian entices a young man called Edward Evans back to his and Myra’s council house which they share with Myra’s old grandmother. In front of Dave’s eyes, Ian murders Edward Evans with an axe. Afterwards, he coldly orders Myra and Dave to clean up the blood.

Dave, feeling like he’s in a nightmare, does what Ian orders him to do before stumbling home in the early hours of the morning, sick and frightened, to a sleeping Maureen.

In the morning, the terrified pair go to the police, which was a pretty brave thing to do on their part. Maureen was reluctantly ‘shopping’ her beloved sister, and Dave was risking the wrath of a man he was obviously very afraid of, that is, Ian. Their action was the catalyst that broke the horrible state of affairs that became known as the ‘Moors Murders’ case wide open…

Maureen and Dave can’t believe it when Ian and Myra are arrested for the murders of missing local young people Lesley Ann Downey, John Kilbride and now Edward Evans, whose body was recovered by the police in Ian and Myra’s council house the day after his brutal murder.

The bodies of Lesley Ann Downey and John Kilbride were discovered buried out on Saddleworth Moors. George Costigan (Bob in RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO) is brilliant here as DCI Joe Mounsey, the careworn detective who never gave up hope of finding little John Kilbride and who, in fact, was the one to first uncover the little boy’s lonely resting place.

Ian and Myra were each sentenced to life in prison for these three murders. It wasn’t until much later that they confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and little Keith Bennett.

The latter had broken his glasses the day before he was murdered and so he went to his death not being able to see properly, a fact which haunted his poor mother and which makes his fate all the more devastatingly poignant.

The evil couple, who nicknamed each other Neddie and Hessie (Neddie after a character in THE GOON SHOW and Hessie after British pianist Myra Hess) were reviled for all time after the details of their heinous actions became known to the public.

The tape made by the couple of Lesley Ann Downey begging and pleading for her life and the pornographic photos they took of her did nothing to endear them to the courts. Their addiction to documenting their gruesome activities was at least part of their undoing.

It was even Ian and Myra’s habit to get all incriminating materials out of the house before they committed another murder, so if the police came round they’d find nothing out of the ordinary. The level of premeditation here is quite extraordinary.

They packed everything up into two suitcases which they placed in the left-luggage section of Manchester Central Railway Station. When the police found a couple of these ‘treasure-troves’ after Ian and Myra were arrrested, let’s just say that they now had a lot more evidence to go on…

Maureen and Dave, with another baby on the way, attempted to rebuild their own lives but the public wouldn’t let them forget who they were and the couple had a long way to go to find peace, if they ever did. They were hugely affected by the fallout from the Moors Murders.

Maureen did in 1980 of a brain haemorrhage, twenty-two years before her born-again Catholic sister Myra passed away in custody, the short peroxide blonde hairstyle, no longer her trademark, replaced by her own longish, natural brown hair.

Ian Brady lingered on till 2017, somewhat bearing out the old Irish saying that ‘you can’t kill a bad thing.’ The absolute secrecy surrounding his cremation and the scattering of his ashes in the sea will tell you just how reviled a person he remained even until after his death.

Maxine Peake does an excellent job here of portraying Myra, one of the most hated women in Britain ever. Not only does she look like her but she plays her as she apparently really was, surly, secretive, unco-operative and stand-offish.

The real Myra didn’t do herself any favours with her unhelpful, abrasive attitude towards the police, and certainly there was at least one set of parents of the Moors Murders victims who died without knowing where their child- Keith Bennett, the smiley-faced boy who broke his glasses- was buried. To this day I believe his remains are still somewhere out on the Moor.

This drama serial handles the explosive material with sensitivity and compassion. The film-makers are careful not to distress the parents and families of the victims any more than they already have been. Some of the relatives helped Neil McKay, the writer, with his research. It’s a grim subject, maybe one of the grimmest, but it needed to finally be told.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

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