Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Secret

In 1991, Colin Howell (James Nesbitt) is a Coleraine dentist and family man whose main recreation is a bible study group, until he meets married mother Hazel Buchanan (Genevieve O'Reilly), a local teacher, at the church.  She then becomes his main hobby, because, err, God meant it to happen.  Of-course he did.  That old nonsense about not committing adultery, indeed.  The pair aren't particularly discreet, so it isn't long before their pastor (Jason Watkins) finds out and informs all parties.  Forgiveness follows, and all seems well, but as Howell's wife Lesley gives birth to their fourth child, the affair starts up again.  Knowing his wife is distraught, and Hazel's husband similarly upset, Colin hits on the plan to do them a favour and put them out of their misery, stage-managing a suicide pact, enabling him and Hazel to join their families together.

Too far-fetched for drama, it had to be real.  Howell was convicted in 2010 of double murder, and his former lover was also convicted.  They had long since split up and married other partners, who were both presumably ignorant of their spouses' bloody past.  It's all rather sordid and depressing.  Nesbitt is charismatic as the hypocritical happy-clappy man o'God, but the tale highlights the sorry state of a religion so out of sync with the times that a follower would rather commit murder than be seen to commit a lesser offence. 

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