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Murder Manor

Back in January, [info]lost_spook did the I surrender meme and she gave me:

Welcome to Murder Manor, the Academy for Young Detectives!

It's taken me this long to do it, but here is Murder Manor.

The first series consisted of three 90 minute episodes shown on Channel 4, who, in their infinite wisdom, split the last two over four weeks as four 60 minute episodes with a lot of adverts. Critics complained about it, saying that it was an unlikely boarding school with a clichéd story, but it was loved by the teenage demographic especially. There were no scenes that didn't have at least one of the younger main characters in, so the audience never knows more than they do.

However, as the series progressed, with allegations of police corruption and parallels with recent events (eg phone hacking) it brought a lot of complaints on the channel. The complaints merely gained it an bigger audience of adults from 4oD. The programme ended up being something of a success for the channel but it was not renewed for another series. It was never released on DVD, despite numerous requests from fans.

I found coming up with people to play these characters really hard. If I was really casting it I'd have a handsome big name star to play Thomas George and all the rest would be unknowns.

Emily Jones (played by Manpreet Bambra)
Emily Jones
She's the youngest of the group, at 17. The others tend to look after her a little, since she tends to act like she needs looking after. However, she's actually pretty street smart and has done martial arts, although she keeps that quiet. She has a crush on Mr George, much to the embarrassment of the others, as she plays up her need to be looked after with him.

Sarah Miller (played by Sophie Turner)
Sarah Miller
She's the brightest of the group. She keeps telling everyone that she's going to go to university when she finishes at Murder Manor, but she doesn't seem to put any effort into applying. She's particularly interested in the psychological side, trying to work out how the murderers thought to help them establish out why someone might have done it, or what sort of person they were.

Ben Griffin (played by Connor Scarlett)
Ben Griffin
He tries to be a bit of a hero. Mostly he's out to impress Emily, who he has a crush on, although she has no idea. However, he has a tendency to just look like an idiot instead, and everyone views him as the class clown. He's either brave or foolhardy, often being the first to volunteer for anything dangerous.

James Robertson (played by Alex Sawyer)
James Robertson
He's gay, but is scared of coming out, so he hasn't told anyone. Instead he pretends with Ben and Sarah that he also has a crush on Emily, but with Emily he pretends to have a crush on Sarah. He is awkward about it, but they assume he's just embarrassed/nervous, even more so when Emily sets him and Sarah up on a date, which doesn't go well. Relations in the group are a little fractious after that, until events force them to pull together.

Thomas George (played by Joseph Milson)
Thomas George
He's a friendly and cheerful teacher. Generally his colleagues like him, although they think he's too friendly with the students, which is how Emily came to have a crush on him. He knows about it and is teased about it, but can never quite be sure how to handle it. He's a former police officer, until he became disillusioned with the job.

Robert Wilson (headmaster) (played by Robert Bathurst)
Robert Wilson
He is somewhat proprietary about the school. He's always about, poking his nose into everything, much to the frustration of the staff (and students). He gives the impression of being happy to help, but is actually not helpful at all. If you've done something wrong then he becomes very stern and has been known to scare the students - and some of the staff.

Harriet Smith (played by Diana Rigg)
Harriet Smith
She's friendly and chatty. She has a good memory for just about everything, no matter how recent or long ago it was. However, she doesn't understand anyone who doesn't drink tea, and is less prepared to talk to anyone who refuses a cup.

Jane Wilson (headmaster's wife and chief constable) (played by Raquel Cassidy)
Jane Wilson
She's authoritative in general and uneasy around children and young adult in particular. She is well respected by her colleagues and used as a model of efficiency in her police force and used as an example of someone not afraid to try new things, such as Murder Manor.

Episode 1:
Mr George, one of the teachers, gives his class the task of looking into an old, unsolved murder. The idea is that they're supposed to look through the police reports and make a decision, as a group, as to who they think did it. Our group (Emily, Sarah, Ben and James) gets bored with looking through the reports, but there's not much else they can do until James tells them that one of the witnesses (Harriet Smith) is still alive. He won't say how he knows, just that he has a contact in the police. Despite it not being allowed, they go and interview her. She gives them some information not in the reports and they wonder about that omission. When looking through the reports again, trying to tie it all up, they realise it's the headmaster that's being implicated.

Before they can do anything, the school is visited by the police, unhappy that the students talked to a witness. The group is forced to hand over all the evidence. They can't go to the headmaster now - he'll just deny it. So they go to Mr George instead, and explain everything. He promises that if they leave it with him he'll see what he can do. The next day Mr George is dead and the group is worried - it looks like their headmaster is a murderer.

Episode 2:
The school is distraught at the loss of a much liked teacher, but the headmaster tells them life must go on. The police are all over the school, but the group decide it's up to them to prove what happened. They eavesdrop on conversations and get some kit to hack the headmaster's phone in his office. They hear him talking to the police and it sounds like they're in on it too. There seems to be a big conspiracy/cover-up related to the old murder, and the new one too.

They go and see Harriet again, but she refuses to talk to them, telling them she doesn't know anything. They bug her house. No one comes to visit, but there are some phone calls, which they only hear her side of. She's assuring them that she hasn't told anyone anything. The students worry that she's going to end up being killed, but they can't do anything as they find themselves confined to school. They try calling Harriet, but she doesn't answer, which makes them more worried.

Ben sneaks out to check on her and doesn't come back. After covering up for him for a day, they're forced to report him missing, but make up a story as to where he went. The police then find him dead not far from the school.

Episode 3:
After Ben's murder students are leaving in fear and parents are also forcing them to leave. The teachers are also clearly scared, but trying to reassure the students. Our three remaining main characters are also scared, but very suspicious, given what happened. They are even more determined to solve Ben's murder and set about a wholesale bugging of the headmaster. It's in his home that they get lucky, when they hear him talking to his wife about the children getting too close.

Now they know he had something to do with it, but his wife is a problem. She's a chief constable, which means if they go to the police, they might end up dead too. They turn to James and his police contact, hoping they can trust him. He doesn't want to meet his contact with the girls present, but they all agree that it wouldn't be a good idea to split up. The girls agree to hide, which they do, but they see that his contact is more than just a contact and is a boyfriend. He refuses to discuss it afterwards, even though they've all taken to sleeping in one room with some traps on the door. They also anonymously send their recording to the press, hoping they're not involved in it too. It all works and they hear the arrests at the headmaster's home over their bugging equipment.

It's confirmed that it was the headmaster who did the original murder, but the headmaster's wife who originally covered it up and continued to cover it up by killing anyone who gets too close to the solution and can't be made to keep quiet based on fear/blackmail. No one suspected her because she was a respected member of society and a successful police officer. She worked with her husband in setting up the school and using the students to solve murders. However, she didn't have control over everything, hence the original murder file getting out in the first place.

After their arrests it looks like the school is going to have to close down, but the students have ideas to keep it open...

Mirrored from my blog.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 30th, 2014 08:22 pm (UTC)
Ooh, interesting!! And just from reading the summaries, I was completely shocked when you killed off Mr George in episode 1.

And, I don't know, these TV Channels just don't seem to be able to handle fake shows at all - cancellations, messing them about, never putting them out on DVD. Still, with that demographic, at least I can bury myself in the fanfic, right?

May. 30th, 2014 08:55 pm (UTC)
I was completely shocked when you killed off Mr George in episode 1.

I am glad about that, I was going for shock value. Not for nothing have I seen all of Spooks :)

I don't know why we seem to go for channels messing programmes about. It can't be anything to do with real life... :) (it was also that I didn't have to come up with more than three episode summaries :))
May. 31st, 2014 07:41 am (UTC)
I was going for shock value. Not for nothing have I seen all of Spooks

... but apparently the same was wasted on me. :lol: It worked, anyway - even in a summary, I was all... "But... what? NO!" :-)

I don't know why we seem to go for channels messing programmes about. It can't be anything to do with real life... :) (it was also that I didn't have to come up with more than three episode summaries

Well, quite. Ha.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )