Timothy Spall: Huge responsibility to tell true story of Sixth Commandment

British actor Timothy Spall has said that being in BBC true crime series The Sixth Commandment was a “huge responsibility”.

The Mr Turner star, 67, picked up the leading actor TV Bafta award for his portrayal of university lecturer Peter Farquhar in the drama that portrayed his murder at the hands of Benjamin Field.

Speaking at a press conference after the series won the limited drama gong at the awards, Harry Potter star Spall said: “It’s a huge responsibility, because this is about people’s lives… obviously it’s about very tragic murder, but it’s about love, it’s a celebration of people, however old they are, whatever situation they are, they’re desire of love.”

BAFTA TV Awards 2024 – London
Timothy Spall in the press room after winning the Leading Actor award (Ian West/PA)

Field killed Mr Farquhar in order to inherit his house and money after driving him to think he was losing his mind following a period of gaslighting.

At Field’s trial, Oxford Crown Court heard how he secretly gave Mr Farquhar drugs and spiked his whisky, hoping that his eventual death at his hands would look like suicide or an accident.

It was only when Field began targeting Mr Farquhar’s neighbour, Anne Moore-Martin that his wicked scheme began to unravel.

Appearing at the winners’ conference following his leading actor win, Spall revealed he had prayed for the souls of Mr Farquhar and Ms Moore-Martin.

The veteran actor said: “I’m privileged enough to have been in a beautifully written, beautifully heartfelt… piece of work with a massive responsibility to get right because of the human beings who are alive, real human beings, the people who are left who are still grieving.

“The genius of the whole package of this thing was how beautifully written it was and how uncontentiously it was made, how professionally it was made.

“And considering its sensational tragedy… it was a story that’s just honest, and that’s lovely and I do pray for the souls of the people who died and I also pray for everybody who’s involved in this.”

Anne-Marie Blake, who was the niece of Ms Moore-Martin, spoke at the conference and reiterated why the show had been made.

She said: “We’re here because of the amazing person and warm person my aunt was and how many lives that she she touched.

BAFTA TV Awards 2024 – London
Timothy Spall attending the BAFTA TV Awards 2024 (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“And Baftas and nice dresses and things are all lovely.

“But the real reason we’re here is because of my aunt, and not because she’s a victim of Ben Field, but because she is a person in her own right and her story needed to be told for other people to see those signs.”

Field admitted fraudulently being in relationships with the pensioners as part of his plan to get them to change their wills.

He was ordered to serve at least 36 years in prison after being found guilty of 69-year-old Mr Farquhar’s murder in 2019.