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Partners in crime; BEST TV We love; James Nesbitt returns to his Northern Irish roots as half of a real-life adulterous couple who killed their spouses.

New series THE SECRET Fri ITV 9pm Real-life crime stories don't come much more chilling than this new drama about a notorious double murder.

JAMES NESBITT returns to his homeland, Northern Ireland, to play Colin Howell, a God-fearing dentist who had a torrid affair with Sunday school teacher Hazel Buchanan (Genevieve O'Reilly).

They met at their local Baptist church in the sleepy community of Coleraine, County Londonderry, and conspired to murder their partners, Lesley and Trevor, in May 1991 so they could be together. 'Their 1 sexual chemistry was very combustible', says James, 51. 'It was interesting to explore how wickedness and evil can flourish under the cover of religion.

'Colin clearly had a level of charm but he was also controlling, had supreme self-belief, a very forceful personality and thought the rules didn't apply to him.' Genevieve found it challenging to play a character who, on the face of it, was a pillar of society, but collaborated in two abhorrent killings.

'They abandoned themselves to a sordid affair that fuelled later horrors,' says the actress, 39. 'I inhabited a character who was wicked, selfish, narcissistic and cowardly. Yet she also loved her kids, was successful at work and showed generosity to her community. They're complicated people in shocking events.' The events of the four-part series - which also stars Jason Watkins as Pastor Hansford - are even more harrowing for James as they happened near where he grew up. 'These events took place in my home town,' he says. 'Two of my best friends were patients at Colin's dental practice and my sister used to go to Lesley's coffee mornings,' he says.

'In one scene, my character runs past my parents' actual house - where they would have been sleeping - after dumping the bodies. It's quite chilling.

'There's a frenzy in Northern Ireland about this series. It's a sensitive case and we were careful not to boost Colin's ego, but everyone has an opinion on these murders and the people who did them.'

'Colin was a very forceful personality and thought that the rules didn't apply to him.' JAMES NESBITT


THE CHURCH: Jason Watkins as a pastor

THE MISTRESS: Genevieve as Hazel Buchanan with her family

Words by: Neil Batey

KILLER DRILLER: James as Howell, who was a dentist

MAN IN THE MIDDLE: James as the killer with his mistress and wife

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 23, 2016
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