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A Confession

  • Episode:

    1 of 6

  • Transmission (TX):

    Mon 02 Sep 2019

  • TX Confirmed


  • Time

    9.00pm - 10.00pm

  • Week:

    Week 36 2019 : Sat 31 Aug - Fri 06 Sep

  • Channel:


  • Published:

    Wed 21 Aug 2019

This information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 27 August.

Series overview

A Confession, from acclaimed screenwriter, Jeff Pope, starring Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, Siobhan Finneran and Joe Absolom has been coproduced by ITV Studios and Urban Myth Films.

The series tells the story of how Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, played by Martin Freeman (StartUp, The Hobbit, Sherlock, Fargo), deliberately breached police procedure and protocol to catch a killer, a decision that ultimately cost him his career and reputation.

Set in Swindon, Wiltshire, ‘A Confession’, details the disappearance of 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan in March 2011. On a night out with girlfriends, Sian left a nightclub in Swindon Old Town to walk the 15 minutes home to boyfriend Kevin Reape, played by Charlie Cooper (This Country). Worried for her safety, Kevin reports Sian missing when she fails to come home in the early hours or respond to his increasingly frantic texts.

With the police investigation underway, officers arrive on the doorstep of Sian’s mother, Elaine O’Callaghan, played by Siobhan Finneran (Cold Feet, The Moorside, Happy Valley), who at first thinks her daughter must have stayed overnight with a girlfriend. Described as a ‘family girl’, it was uncharacteristic of Sian to be out of touch with her loved ones.

Senior Investigating Officer Steve Fulcher leads a team which begins to piece together Sian’s last movements, scouring CCTV footage from the club and re-tracing her steps home. Cell-site analysis reveals her mobile phone signal bouncing off a mast 14 miles away in Savernake Forest. With the missing person’s enquiry in full swing Fulcher, orders a full-scale search operation.

Believing Sian may still be alive, Fulcher operates on the premise that Sian is being held somewhere against her will. If she is, he knows it will be a race against time. Through diligent and painstaking police work Fulcher and his team discovers CCTV footage of her in the High Street, which leads to vital clues in the investigation.

Meanwhile, Karen Edwards, played by Imelda Staunton (Maleficent, Paddington, Harry Potter, Vera Drake, The Girl), the mother of Becky Godden, a 20-year-old who disappeared eight years previously in 2003, is watching the investigation unfold on the local news and in the town centre. Reminded of Becky’s disappearance, she becomes gripped by fear that her daughter will somehow be involved in what is unfolding before her eyes as the search for Sian goes on.

A known drug addict and prostitute, Becky had disappeared many times before and although Karen had tried to help her daughter, staging interventions and paying for rehabilitation, sadly Becky continued to lapse back into addiction.

Coincidentally, the property where Karen lives with her second husband, Charlie, backs on to the home of Elaine O’Callaghan and her then partner. Although they don’t know one another, their lives become tragically intertwined when Fulcher and his team edge closer to their chief suspect, local taxi driver Christopher Halliwell, played by Joe Absolom (Doc Martin, The Level, Suspects).

The investigation culminates in a standoff between Fulcher and Halliwell at a remote location, as Fulcher tries to avoid him being taken back to a police station, being given a solicitor and saying ‘no comment’. Just as Fulcher is about to give up, Halliwell suddenly makes a startling confession. But this moment of apparent triumph takes on sinister consequences and steers the investigation in a completely unforeseen direction.

Episode 1

A quiet relaxing Saturday morning in the picturesque surroundings of a countryside hotel is cut short for Elaine O’Callaghan (Siobhan Finneran), as a worried phone call from her son Liam O’Callaghan (Jake Davies) causes her to come home early. The date is Saturday 19th March 2011, and Elaine’s daughter Sian has not come home to the house she shares with her boyfriend Kevin Reape (Charlie Cooper) from the night before, and naturally concerns begin to arise within Sian’s tight-knit family, regarding her wellbeing.

Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher (Martin Freeman) of Wiltshire Police is the on-duty S.I.O. for what he had hoped was going to be a quiet weekend at home, but when the call comes in on the Saturday afternoon that local girl Sian hasn’t returned from her Friday night out, Fulcher’s instincts tell him that this is no ordinary missing person case. A briefing from officers who have been to speak to Sian’s family does nothing to allay the rising fears Steve has for Sian’s safety, and a search for the missing girl ensues.

As the search ramps up and gains media attention the next day, the news of the missing girl strikes a chord with Karen Edwards (Imelda Staunton), who due to an unusual set of circumstances hasn’t seen her own daughter Becky Godden-Edwards (Stephanie Hyam) for over eight years. She wishes the local girl will make it home to her own mother safe, whilst hoping that her daughter Becky will one-day do the same.

The initial investigation by Steve and Wiltshire Police doesn’t turn up many leads, but a mobile signal ping from Sian’s phone off a cell-tower mast near a local beauty spot – Savernake Forest - in the early hours of Sunday morning, is something that takes everyone by surprise.  

Elaine and Sian’s father Mick (Ian Puleston-Davies) gather Sian’s family together and keep her in their thoughts, as the local residents of Swindon decide to take matters into their own hands and join the Police in the search for Sian in Savernake Forest.

Just as the investigation threatens to run into a dead-end, with a search radius of 6.2miles proving impossible to cover, it emerges from CCTV footage that Sian had taken a ride in a car outside the nightclub she attended on the Friday night. The image is grainy and although neither the model of car nor number plate can be identified, the girl is definitely Sian. And with DSI Fulcher now knowing that he needs to look for one of fourteen potential vehicles spotted on ANPR cameras as a result of the CCTV find, he makes the decision to treat the disappearance as a crime-in-action, on the basis that Sian is still alive somewhere and needs to be found.

A television appeal, led by Elaine and Sian’s boyfriend Kevin, attempts to reach out to the good nature of Sian’s captor, but a shocking realisation that Steve will have to investigate whether a senior officer at Wiltshire Police might be the abductor, throws the investigation into unchartered territory.