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A Confession

  • Episode:

    4 of 6

  • Transmission (TX):

    Mon 23 Sep 2019

  • TX Confirmed


  • Time

    9.00pm - 10.00pm

  • Week:

    Week 39 2019 : Sat 21 Sep - Fri 27 Sep

  • Channel:


  • Published:

    Wed 11 Sep 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 4

Lives for the residents of Swindon, Wiltshire, have been flipped on their head after the discoveries of two young murdered women by Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher (Martin Freeman) in the local area. And with the second body now formally identified as that of Rebecca Godden-Edwards, Steve also has to break the news to John Godden (Christopher Fulford) that his daughter is dead.

Having already met with Becky’s mother Karen Edwards (Imelda Staunton), the effects of the investigation weigh heavy with Steve, who is certain that murderer Christopher Halliwell (Joe Absolom) has killed other victims between Becky in 2003 and Sian in 2011. But now that he has been advised by a solicitor, Halliwell is going ‘no comment’ and a question regarding the legitimacy of Fulcher’s interview tactics with Halliwell, looms like a dark cloud overhead, threatening to unravel the entire investigation. So Fulcher tasks his dwindling task force with developing a supporting case based on evidence other than Halliwell’s confession, to help towards a guilty verdict.

Unaware of the problems Fulcher is facing at Gablecross Police Station, Elaine Pickford (Siobhan Finneran) has her daughter’s funeral to deal with, and the effects of Sian’s murder on the local community are clear to see, as thousands take to the streets of Swindon Old Town to watch the funeral procession pass by.

Karen Edwards confronts her ex-husband John about the sightings of Becky after 2005. John says his relatives ‘must have got their dates mixed up’. The two part in bitterness. 

With the close proximity between Elaine and Karen Edwards now clear, living only doors apart, Becky’s funeral now takes place. Karen has only been given a small box with her daughter’s bones in to bury. 

With Steve Fulcher and his team at Wiltshire Police, confident of the fact that Christopher Halliwell taking them to the scenes of two dead bodies would be enough to secure a guilty verdict, the Pre-Trial Hearing of the case against Halliwell starts at Bristol Crown Court. Early confidence however, is quickly eroded by the work of Halliwell’s legal team, who pick holes in Fulcher’s urgent interview tactics.

Fulcher’s decision not to allow Halliwell access to his lawyer before questioning leads the judge – Mrs Justice Cox, to side with Halliwell’s defence team in agreeing that Fulcher has breached the laws of PACE and that his confession should not be allowed into evidence. The charges against him for Becky are dropped, Karen Edwards descends into utter despair - Halliwell can no longer be prosecuted for murdering her daughter even though he admitted it and took a convoy of police cars to her body.

With DNA evidence still linking Halliwell to the murder of Sian, he pleads guilty and receives a 25 year sentence. But Becky’s father John Godden decides to complain to Wiltshire Police that Fulcher’s actions ‘prevented justice being obtained for his daughter’ and Fulcher’s life starts to unravel.