The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies
Friday, 05 December 2014

The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies

The ordeal of an innocent schoolmaster plays out like an updated The Crucible

Written by Ben Felsenburg
Ben-Felsenberg-176Like a modern-day version of The Crucible, The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies (ITV, Wednesday, 9pm) presents us with a cruelly compelling world where the witch-hunt’s fevered and misplaced certainty of guilt holds almost everyone in thrall. Jefferies, you will remember, was the retired Bristol schoolmaster who in the last days of 2010 was arrested as the suspected murderer of Joanna Yeates, a young woman who was a tenant in a flat he owned. For days he was questioned by police, while the media went to town on every morsel of colour in the life of this singular man, liked and respected by friends and former colleagues and pupils, but easily painted as an oddball because of his uncompromising refusal to kowtow to modernity. A superb script by Peter Morgan and the equally brilliant central performance of Jason Watkins flesh out the full absurdity of Jefferies’s predicament. For days his protestations of innocence to the police fall on deaf ears: as his lawyer points out, quite how could a slight man in his mid-60s have had the strength to strangle to death the young, fit Yeates?

This was not the finest hour for the detectives nor for the press, and in part two (on Thursday night), Jefferies pursues damages and an apology from the newspapers, and eventually testifies at the Leveson Inquiry.

Throughout it all, Watkins lovingly portrays Jefferies and takes great care to show how, even when his reputation was so unjustly under threat, the same could never be said for his dignity.

NOT TO BE MISSED

TV-Dec05-02-590

KARAJAN’S MYTH AND MAGIC BBC4, Fri, 7.30pm
A stunning film looks back at the great conductor, one of the towering figures of classical music.

JAMIE’S CRACKING CHRISTMAS Channel 4, Mon, 8pm
The chirpy chef gives us his recipe for a seasonal feast with all the trimmings for family and friends.

BRIAN PERN: A LIFE IN ROCK BBC2, Tues, 10pm
A game host of stars, such as Nigel Havers, line up for an aff ectionate spoof ‘rockumentary’ series.


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