TV | Lucan – More Christmas TV catch-up

It must be bad to be upper-class these days. There is an increasing perception of a lack of noblesse oblige among those with titles. What do those who inherited lordships and baronies know about those who have little? At least there are no members of the House of Lords with homicidal tendencies (that we know of). But occasionally, there is one who stands out.

And so comes the tale of Lord ‘Lucky’ Lucan, portrayed in a new two-part ITV drama. Rory Kinnear plays the cunning, moustached aristocrat, whose gambling addiction causes him to divorce his wife, Veronica and subsequently, lose regular access to his children. In revenge, he attempts to murder his wife. One may be slightly peeved at how the story does not focus more attention on Lucan’s victim, his children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett. Considering that the programme is based on real events, it’s quite discourteous to reduce Rivett to a minor character.

It may be fastidious to say so, but Christopher Eccleston’s accent too was unconvincing. Despite this, his character, Aspers, has the best dialogue throughout, wallowing on about population control in a way that would bring big shiny Colgate smiles to any eugenicist. Any revolutionary Trotskyite meanwhile, would adore how Lucan shows how ghastly the aristocracy talk of the proletariat.

Kinnear and Catherine McCormack, who plays Veronica, Lucan’s suffering wife, turn the programme into a drama, not just about a murder, but about the break-up of a family. Veronica is not only physically battered, she’s mentally battered by Lucan, who tries to have her committed to a mental institution. The drama allows Veronica the voice that she needs to show just how devious and cruel Lucan is. McCormack outshines Kinnear, which, considering he has played Hamlet on stage, means that brighter lights career-wise should appear for her in the not-too-distant future.

The killing itself, shot in darkness, was done well, just like the rest of the drama. It’s always a little uneasy to watch a drama based on true events, yet the acting performances are exceptional, and it’s worth watching the show just for that.

You can watch both parts of Lucan on ITV player now

Harry Wise

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