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Shipman was grim up North; TV review.

Byline: EMMA JOHNSON

Shipman (ITV) THIS had everything. Gentle old ladies suddenly dying, a doctor with top-ofthe-league cremation figures, slow-off-the-mark authorities, and lots of people with a hunch.

Set against a very Northern back-drop with very Northern folks (was it really only the early 90s?), it could almost have been a murder mystery for a Sunday night; one for Morse sent on an exchange trip to sort out them oop North!

The only trouble was, this was for real ...

It wasn't that long ago that the headlines hit the front pages and the Hyde GP was sent to jail to rot.

And for that reason I didn't really want to watch this programme. I thought all those dreadful happenings should not be turned into entertainment.

Not just for all the hundreds of relatives' sake, but also because I don't want the evil Shipman - the man who played God with grannies - to have the satisfaction of thinking he was worthy of it.

But curiously, from the moment James Bolam appeared, this turned out to be gripping.

We never knew why Shipman did what he did because he never spoke at his trial.

Given that, the former Likely Lad proved to be a great Grim Reaper.

His role was based on what witnesses had said about Shipman. Put together, it made a compelling central character.

Blas under pressure, arrogant across the questioning table, amazingly chummy and profesional with the relatives, he rarely lost it. But when he did, it was dramatic stuff.

The final number of people he killed is still unclear - as the moving shot of a church packed with candles symbolised.

But there was one unanswered question: Why did he suddenly turn greedy and clumsily drop himself in it?

Faking Mrs Grundy's will (who happened to have a smart, solicitor daughter) on a dodgy typewriter was the turning point.

In the end, instead of Shipman's evil, the triumph over it proved the central theme. And, in that way, the programmemakers got it bang on.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 10, 2002
Words:334
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