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A Confession

  • Episode:

    2 of 6

  • Transmission (TX):

    Mon 09 Sep 2019

  • TX Confirmed


  • Time

    9.00pm - 10.00pm

  • Week:

    Week 37 2019 : Sat 07 Sep - Fri 13 Sep

  • Channel:


  • Published:

    Wed 28 Aug 2019

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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 2

Steve Fulcher (Martin Freeman) and his team at Wiltshire Police are faced with the chance that a senior officer at Wiltshire who has committed suicide, could be the man responsible for the disappearance of local girl Sian O’Callaghan. 

But just as Steve investigates whether his colleague could be connected to Sian’s disappearance, some brilliant police work by a lowly traffic officer identifies from another CCTV camera the driver of the car Sian had got into after the Friday night out in Swindon Old Town. Local taxi Driver Christopher Halliwell (Joe Absolom), is now the chief suspect.

Karen Edwards (Imelda Staunton) and her husband Charlie (Peter Wight) soon realise that missing girl Sian O’Callaghan’s mother, Elaine O’Callaghan (Siobhan Finneran), lives only a few doors away with her new partner Pete.

Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher decides that after identifying Christopher Halliwell as a potential suspect, he wants to leave Halliwell ‘in-play’ to go about his normal daily routine, but wants a full surveillance team to tail Halliwell in the hope that if he is the abductor, he will lead the team to Sian. But the secluded roads of the Wiltshire countryside prove difficult for night time surveillance work and the team lose Halliwell for a few hours.

Next morning Steve Fulcher, along with the help of Deborah Peach (Faye McKeever) decide to release fabricated press releases to the media, in the hope of spooking Halliwell into breaking from his daily routine to lead the surveillance team – now back on Halliwell’s tail - to the hidden Sian’s location. Then Halliwell is spotted going into a pharmacy and purchasing a large quantity of painkillers.

Now with Halliwell’s - and by extension Sian’s - lives directly in his hands, Steve Fulcher reluctantly concedes that the team will have to arrest Halliwell and bring him to Gablecross Police Station to be cautioned. Faced with the very real possibility that Sian could have only hours left to live, if indeed she is still alive, Fulcher goes against the advice of colleagues and pushes for an ‘urgent interview’ face-to-face showdown with Halliwell, to plead for her life.

Fulcher takes Halliwell to the remote location of Barbury Castle. He decides not to caution him, and remind him of his ‘right to silence’, and instead – as the urgent interview provision allows – asks him directly: “Are you going to tell me where she is?”.