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article imageReview: ‘A Very British Murder’

By Alexander Baron     Oct 10, 2013 in Entertainment
London - Beauty and brains is an alluring combination, and unlike some women, with Lucy Worsley there is no trade off. Nor is there content-wise here.
This is episode 3 of this short BBC documentary series. The other two are already on YouTube, but this one will be on iplayer for the next 6 days or so. It should probably be called A Very English Murder because all the central characters here are not only English but quintessentially so, apart from Dr Crippen, the woman he was convicted of murdering, and his mistress.
This episode is called The Golden Age, and herein our gorgeous Oxford-educated academic juxtaposes real murders with fictional ones, in particular the crime novels of the whodunnit genre - one that is perhaps surprisingly dominated by women, and that at a time when most women had far fewer opportunities than they do today, (Anita Sarkeesian take note).
Dr Worsley is a crime novel buff as well as an historian, but while she covers the Crippen case meticulously it is perhaps surprising that she fails to mention the latest, and frankly shocking findings, that the remains found buried in the basement of 39 Hilldrop Crescent did not belong to the not-so-good doctor's wife.
This being the case, there are a number of possibilities: the male remains belonged to another victim of the doctor; they were planted by our wonderful police force - shocking thought; the famous pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury fabricated the evidence; and perhaps most shockingly, that the police AND Spilsbury did it together. If that scenario sounds too fantastic to entertain, think Stefan Kiszko.
Agatha Christie died in 1976, but we hear her voice. Dorothy L. Sayers is the presenter's personal favourite; if you have never read one of her books, you may well have heard a slogan she made up while working as a copywriter: "Guinness is good for you".
As Dr Worsley makes clear at the beginning of the programme, real murders are anything but entertaining, something of which we should never lose sight, but this is a jolly good romp through an era that although long gone is anything but forgotten. The large number of TV series on both sides of the Atlantic is testimony to that.
A photograph of a very young Agatha Christie.
A photograph of a very young Agatha Christie.
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More about lucy worsley, Agatha christie, whodunnit, dr crippen
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