Deceit – The DVDfever Review – Channel 4 – Niamh Algar

Deceit is a drama centred around the 1992 murder of a young woman called Rachel Nickell, on Wimbledon Common.

Colin Stagg (Sion Daniel Young) is in the frame due to various aspects of very odd behaviour over the years, along with the fact that he was placed five minutes from the crime scene, yet he claims he wasn’t and had a dodgy alibi.

Covert officer Sadie Byrne (Niamh Algar) uses the pseudonym Lizzie James to contact him, in a plan which psychologist Paul Britton (Eddie Marsan) states will allow the man to either implicate himself in the murder if he’s guilty, or eliminate himself from their enquiries if he’s not.

Naturally, you can expect things are not going to be so clear-cut.

The character of Sadie is partially based on the female officer who was also set to meet Stagg, and who was known as ‘Lizzie James’, but we’re told that for legal reasons, certain characteristics of ‘Sadie Byrne’ have been fictionalised, plus, some scenes and characters have been created for the purposes of dramatisation. That’s a standard for a lot of dramas based on real events, but it would be nice to know precisely what was changed.

I remember this happening at the time because – and this may or may not sound flippant – the murder took place on Wimbledon Common, and not long before the second series of Bottom was due to be shown on BBC2, starring Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson. The finale, “‘s Out” (i.e. “Bottom’s Out“) saw the paid camping on the common before things inevitably went South for them and they had a punch up.

It would’ve been shown on November 5th 1992, but was pulled from the schedule – despite having no direct link to reality whatsoever – and wasn’t aired until April 10th 1995, some two months after the third series had ended, and long after it was originally meant to.

I’m posting this review after the first episode has aired, and all episodes are available now on All4, so it’s safe to say that as the series goes on, we learn how Colin had just two girlfriends before this period of time, as well as whether or not he carried out the murder, and whether or not he fits the profile who could’ve done it. If you don’t already know the outcome of this real-life murder, I won’t reveal that here where it’s not covered up, and I recommend you avoid looking it up before you’ve watched the series.

Overall, this is reasonably engaging, but not gripping. It could’ve been cut down to 3 episodes, easily.

In the spoiler section below, I will confirm whether or not it was Colin Stagg.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Deceit is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of the release date on Sept 6th, but there’s no Blu-ray listed yet.

You can also watch the entire series now on All 4.

Deceit – Official Trailer – Channel 4

Series Score: 6.5/10

Director: Niall MacCormick
Producer: Ado Yoshizaki Cassuto
Writer: Emilia di Girolamo
Music: Marc Canham

Sadie Byrne: Niamh Algar
DI Keith Pedder: Harry Tredaway
Paul Britton: Eddie Marsan
Colin Stagg: Sion Daniel Young
Lucy: Rochenda Sandall
Mark De Costa: El Anthony
Kash: Edwin De La Renta
DC Martin Long: Charlie Carter
CI Tony Leech: James Hillier
Ellie: Alison Ford
Baz: Nathaniel Martello-White
Rachel Nickell: Katie Buchholz
Andre Hanscombe: Danny Parsons
Alex Hanscombe: D’Vante Hart
Hairdresser: Kirsty Averton
Newsreader: Natasha Jayetileke