Julian Fellowes Investigates A Most Mysterious Murder

Presenter: Julian Fellowes
Acorn Media UK
RRP: 24.99
Certificate: PG
Available 06 February 2006

Oscar winner Julian Fellowes stars in and co-wrote these five brand new factual-based films, each of which is unique in terms of its characters, motive and historical period. At the time they were front page news and a common theme runs throughout - none of these murders was ever solved...

Julian Fellowes Investigates A Most Mysterious Murder sees Julian Fellowes act as our tour guide as he takes us back in time to investigate a number of real life murders that were never solved. He acts as a sort of historical detective, uncovering the dark goings on behind these five factual based films.

The first tale, The Case of Charles Bravo (1876), is concerned with the death of a young barrister who died shortly after he was married. Chief suspects were his wife, her companion, her lover and a groom. At the time, this was one of the most sensational legal drama of the 19th Century, ensuring that the case not only made headline news, but history.

The second story, The Case of Rose Harsent (1902), follows the investigation after a pregnant maidservant was found stabbed to death in the village of Peasenhall. It was alleged that the father of the unborn child was William Gardiner - a preacher of the Primitive Methodist Chapel - as it was well known that he had had an affair with the victim. The police, for some strange reason, originally thought it was suicide, but, after the crime was investigated, the preacher was unsuccessfully tried twice. Both times the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

The Case of George Harry Storrs (1909) investigates the untimely, violent death of wealthy industrialist George Harry Storrs. George was the younger of two brothers. George started an affair with the his brother's governess, Mariah - an affair that if discovered could have lost George his part of the family business and Mariah her job. The couple parted when Mariah attended college, returning six months later (Fellowes believing that she gave birth to George's child while away). The two didn't continue the affair on Mariah's return and she committed suicide soon afterwards. After Mariah's death, George started to receive anonymous threatening letters. Soon afterwards George was attacked and killed. There were two trials - the first for James Storrs, and the second for a local man who George made an enemy of when he discovered the man cavorting with a girl on the Storrs estate.

The Case of the Croydon Poisonings (1929), looks at the mysterious murder of three members of the same family. At Birdhurst Rise, between April 1928 and March 1929, three members of the same family were poisoned. Strongly suspected were other family members Grace Duff and Thomas Sidney, but there was insufficient evidence to bring a charge.

The Case of the Earl of Erroll (1941) is set in colonial Kenya, and sees the death of Hon Josslyn Victor Hay, the 22nd Earl of Erroll who was found just outside of Nairobi with a bullet through his head. On the surface it was a straightforward murder, a crime of passion. Erroll, a white settler in Kenya, was a womaniser. When Erroll began a torrid affair with the new wife of Sir Jock Delves Broughton, some were not surprised that, in January 1941, Erroll's body was found in his car, a bullet in his brain. Broughton was naturally the principal suspect and was soon arrested and tried. Broughton was acquitted - ballistic evidence showed that the bullet had not come from his revolver. But six months later he killed himself with a morphine overdose in the Adelphi hotel in Liverpool. So was he really guilty of murdering Erroll?

This double DVD includes a number of extras including a behind the scenes featurette; biography of Jullian Fellowes; case notes; and picture gallery.

This release is a must own for anyone who enjoys murder mysteries. The great thing about this series is that we are never entirely sure who is behind each real murderer/s. All Fellowes does is revisit the facts that are known and offer the most likely of explanations. An exceptionally compelling release.

Heather Simpson

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