Bafta winner Timothy Spall: It was privilege to tell Sixth Commandment story

Bafta winner Timothy Spall has said it was a “privilege” to tell the story of the manipulation and murder of Peter Farquhar in the true crime drama The Sixth Commandment.

The British star won the leading actor award at the annual television ceremony on Sunday night for his portrayal of the teacher who was murdered by his former pupil and lodger Ben Field in 2014.

Discussing the role, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “These things come along, you read the script and you think: ‘Oh, this is interesting,’ but then you find out: ‘Oh my God, this is real.’

“It’s beautifully written, it’s got a great director, a fine cast, you really don’t think about the awards and all that, you genuinely don’t.

“So when it ended up getting six nominations, it got nominated all over the place, it feels sort of remarkable, and a bit bonkers, but lovely.”

BAFTA TV Awards 2024 – London
Timothy Spall (Ian West/PA)

Field was acquitted of the attempted murder of Farquhar’s neighbour Ann Moore-Martin, who died of natural causes on 12 May 2017.

The drama also won the limited series Bafta at the ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall.

Spall continued: “It’s just lovely to be in something, to have the privilege – that word gets bandied around a lot by actors – but it’s our true privilege for these people, and the families of these people who are still missing them, for them to allow us to do it and to tell this story that has this universal human nature that we can all identify and recognise.”

He added: “Peter (Farquhar) was a very, very smart, very, very erudite and intellectually acute man. But the one thing he did have was a yearning for love.

“He was in his 60s, late 60s, but he really hadn’t ever found love. And I think the trouble with that was that made him vulnerable.

“If anything, the story is about a very, very tragic murder, two very tragic deaths. But it’s also about older people still yearning for love and looking for love.

“It’s about all of those emotional complications and emotional needs that we never lose, you know, and when somebody is still yearning for this, they fall in love with what they think is the person of their dreams and it turns out to be the person who ultimately creates their complete demise.”