In 1906, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Martin Clunes of “Doc Martin”), suffering greatly from the loss of his wife and assailed by guilt and grief, could not even find refuge in his writing; Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson refused his call. It was only when his faithful secretary, Woodie, presented him with an apparent real-life miscarriage of justice to try and solve, that he could be roused to action; to use his own skills of detection to rival those of his fictional creation.
The case in question was that of George Edalji (Arsher Ali of “The Missing”), a Parsee solicitor, who was convicted and served a three-year sentence for writing obscene letters and mutilating and killing livestock in Great Wyrley, Staffordshire. Arthur believed in George’s innocence, and suspected that he was in fact a victim of racial discrimination and police corruption. However, as the twists and turns of the case unfold, Arthur is made to question every word that George has said to him. With Woodie by his side, Arthur discovers that the mysterious true identity of the Wyrley Ripper is yet to be unmasked. By getting involved in the case, Arthur has unleashed an old fury that is not yet sated. It is only by finding the true culprit, that Arthur can finally put the case, and his grief, to rest; whilst simultaneously becoming part of a case that proved singularly significant in English judicial history.
Based on the true story, depicted in Julian Barnes’ novel, “Arthur & George” is an exciting three-part drama.
– EPISODE GUIDE –
In 1906, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is mourning the loss of his wife, Louisa. Her death, after a long and drawn out illness, has caused Arthur to slump into a guilt- ridden malaise: he fears that Louisa may have suspected that he was an adulterer, in thought if not in deed, due to his friendship with Jean Leckie. Even writing his famous Sherlock Holmes stories cannot rouse Arthur. Then his secretary, Woodie, comes across a letter from a Mr. George Edalji, a young Parsee solicitor, who was sent to prison for three years for a crime that he attains he did not commit. George wants Arthur’s help to clear his name: could this be Arthur’s chance to right a wrong?
After the escape of their late night assailant, Arthur, Woodie and the Edaljis are surprised by the arrival of a further visitor to the Vicarage: George. The timing of George’s visit, as well as his mud-stained boots, lead Woodie to further question whether it were in fact, George, who was the Wyrley Ripper after all. Arthur however, is not convinced: he believes that George has been the victim of racial prejudice, and possibly even police corruption.
Arthur is determined to prove all his doubters wrong, and find out for himself if George has been hiding anything. He attacks the case with renewed fervour, and manages to uncover fresh evidence that suggests a very different explanation to the one found by the police. Woodie is at first dismayed by Arthur’s continued interest in this particular pursuit. However, Woodie is then reconvinced by Arthur that they are onto something: they may have the real culprit in their sights, and the very fact that they are so close to the truth is the reason the Wyrley Ripper has been trying this hard to put them off.
“Martin Clunes is excellent as the eponymous Arthur, sporting a genuine Scots accent and a Victorian gentleman’s sensibility,” reads a fan review published on IMDB.com. “Wonderful writing and period scenery provide a convincing platform for the actors to bring the plot to life. I have no knowledge of the historical reality of the plot but the device of having the real life characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his secretary as the protagonists in a crime drama provides an interest over and above the validity of the story or the sophistication of the plot. The writing is very well done, with the dialogue couched in antique terms and rhythms. The plot is subtly exposed over time through conversation, rather than the trite expositions of modern crime series. This can easily be enjoyed as a period piece or as an excellent crime drama.”