Rillington Place - Tim Roth reaches new levels of creepy, but Samantha Morton steals the show in serial killer drama

It's that time of the year '“ and that type of weather '“ which means the days never seem to get properly light.
Tim Roth stars as serial killer John Reginald Christie in the new BBC drama Rillington PlaceTim Roth stars as serial killer John Reginald Christie in the new BBC drama Rillington Place
Tim Roth stars as serial killer John Reginald Christie in the new BBC drama Rillington Place

The skies stubbornly remain a leaden grey, and the air is dank and chill.

Much like every day in post-war London, if Rillington Place (BBC1, Tuesdays, 9pm) is to be believed.

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Every exterior scene seemed to be shot against a backdrop of soot, damp chilliness seemed to seep out of the TV.

Not totally surprising, really, as it told the story of John Reginald Christie, one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers.

Tim Roth played him as a shuffling, hunched nonentity, but his pinched features and owlish glasses gave him a certain malevolence. His habit of speaking just above a whisper meant you had to lean in as he dripped poison.

But it was Samantha Morton who stole the show, as Christie’s wife, Ethel.

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Pleased to be reunited with husband Reg after an eight-year separation – partly due to Reg being in prison – her dreams of happy family life seem dashed the minute they walk through the door of 10 Rillington Place, in what was then run-down Ladbroke Grove, London, all peeling wallpaper, unmentionable stains and loud neighbours in the upstairs rooms.

Morton’s dawning realisation that her Reg is not a nice man was beautifully played, her fear and loathing growing all the time.

With most of the action confined to the seedy rooms of the Christies’ flat, the drama seemed a bit stagy, but on reflection it added to the claustrophobic feel, and the gathering menace.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, looks, at first sight, like a stiff upper lip type who might have been a Scotland Yard detective on the Christie case in the 1950s.

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In MPs: Behind Closed Doors (Channel 5, Mondays, 9pm) we got a glimpse of the real life of an MP, away from the wood panelling, expenses forms and free bars of Westminster, and in their regular surgeries, meeting regular people.

Rees-Mogg may be dipped in starch by his valet every morning, but in common with most of our representatives, every week he is confronted by a range of intractable problems he can do little about.

The best our can hope for is a sympathetic ear in Government, or to intimidate a local official.

Still, it was good to see these MPs – these days often dismissed as part of the ‘metropolitan elite’ – on the frontline, getting their hands dirty.