THERE’S a scene in the new Channel 4 drama about Lord Longford where he’s visiting Moors murderer Ian Brady.
The deranged and hostile child killer explains that he’s on hunger strike in protest at what he says are filthy prison conditions.
“Why don’t you allow me to make representations to the Home Secretary on your behalf?” asks the campaigning Labour peer.
Brady replies: “I’m not completely insane.”
Channel 4’s HQ in London was the venue for a preview screening of Longford, which will be broadcast on Thursday October 26.
You can read today’s first MEN TV feature on the drama here.
It includes a dramatic re-creation of the shocking tape which recorded the torture and death of one of the child victims.
Aside from the 1966 trial at Chester Assizes, the real tape of Lesley Ann Downey, 10, crying for her mother and begging for mercy has never been heard in public.
Longford features a 30 second extract, with Oscar nominee Samantha Morton as Myra Hindley and Andy Serkis as Ian Brady.
The voices of both actors are heard on the muffled tape, with Hindley telling the young girl to be quiet. But it is faded out before any child’s voice can be heard.
Director Tom Hooper told me there was “massive debate” about whether or not to include the scene.
It features actor Jim Broadbent, as Longford, sitting in stunned silence in his study as he hears the tape for the first time.
Tom said it was decided to fade the tape as quickly as possible, with no question of representing Lesley Ann’s voice.
“To replay what was on the tape at any length, I think would be upsetting for the families and probably too upsetting for the viewers.”
Lesley’s step-father Alan West attended a private screening of the 90-minute drama in Manchester earlier this week, along with members of the family of another victim – John Kilbride, 12.
The press screening in London was held the morning after. It was followed by a question and answer session with several people involved in the production, including Jim and Samantha, who plays Hindley up until her late fifties.
Although made for Channel 4, Longford is actually an ITV Granada film – the same company behind The Moors Murders: See No Evil, screened on ITV1 earlier this year.
Both are remarkable pieces of television. Longford concentrates on the peer’s relationship with Hindley and his doomed campaign to secure her release.
It also illuminates the conviction of a man who – because of his support for Hindley – became a cartoon figure of hate and ridicule in the tabloid press.
Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow was a long time friend of Lord Longford and had lunch with him almost every month for 30 years.
“I think the film caught the immense complexity of who he was,” said Jon. “An incredibly difficult man to encapsulate. He was a most beguiling, captivating, extraordinary man, who had spanned the 20th century and been in on extraordinarily great moments of history.
“It’s worth pointing out – Frank wrote a book called Humility, but only after he’d already written five volumes of autobiography.”
Return To The Moors
See No Evil: The Moors Murders
Maxine Peake: Myra And Me