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Trial by Fire

Once Burned, Twice Shy: Trial by Fire on MYSTERY!

Juliet Stevenson stars as the persevering prosecutor Helen West in the two-hour Trial by Fire, based on Frances Fyfield's taut psychological thriller, premiering on PBS's MYSTERY! Thursday, February 24, 2000 at 9pm (check local listings).

Acclaimed for her roles in Truly, Madly, Deeply, The Politician's Wife, and Cider With Rosie, Stevenson takes up the mantle of the middle-aged female crimefighter in the brisk, sexy style created by Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect.

Jim Carter (A Very British Coup; Shakespeare in Love) plays her live-in lover, Geoffrey Bailey, who happens to be chief superintendent of police in the leafy London suburb where they've moved to escape the seamy metropolis.

They make an interesting couple. He gathers evidence. She prosecutes -- if she thinks the accused is guilty. But the gruesome murder case they face in Trial by Fire could see their relationship on the rocks, since Bailey is convinced he has the killer -- and Helen is equally sure he doesn't.

The badly decomposed corpse of a woman has turned up in a shallow grave near a local pub. The victim's husband, a smooth real estate developer, John Blundell (James Laurenson), is an obvious suspect since he never reported his wife's disappearance to the police.

But then the Blundell's teenage daughter Evie (Polly Findlay) discloses that her mother was having an affair with Anthony Sumner (Dominic Mafham), Evie's English teacher.

Things look bad for Sumner when his cigarettes and cane show up at the crime scene, the victim's clothes are found in his garden, and he admits to treating her roughly on the last night she was seen alive.

Case closed, says Bailey.

Not so fast, says Helen. "No fingerprints, no signed confession, no motive. Why did he strip her completely, bury her, take her clothing and jewelry, but leave his fags and his walking stick with her blood and hair on it?"

Panic, says Bailey.

But Helen soon kindles his doubts and together they delve deeper into the mystery, in which the key figure seems to be William Featherstone (Kevin Knapman), a disturbed young man with a propensity for inept theft and bungled arson.

Then one night, a fire that appears to be his burns impressively -- too impressively.

Trial by Fire is a production of Arrowhead Productions. Alan Wright is producer and John Davies is coproducer; Patrick Lau is director. Executive producers are Peter Fudakowski and Patrick MacGwire. The screenplay is written by Trevor R. Bowen, adapted from the novel by Frances Fyfield.

Trial by Fire is presented on MYSTERY! by WGBH Boston, where Rebecca Eaton is executive producer. Diana Rigg is series host.

Funding for MYSTERY! is provided by public television viewers. MYSTERY! is close captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers by The Caption Center at WGBH Boston. Narrated descriptions of MYSTERY! programs are provided by Descriptive Video Service® (DVS®), a national service of WGBH.


Introduction | More | Cast and Production Credits





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