U Be Dead

David Morrissey and Tara Fitzgerald as Jan and Debbie

YOU’VE got a mobile phone, right? Facebook page? Twitter?

Perhaps you’re even one of those people on social networking sites who like to let others know which coffee shop or train station you’re passing through?

“The whole Orwellian Big Brother thing is that it would be imposed on us by a government,” actor David Morrissey told me recently.

“But what he didn’t realise is that we would impose it on ourselves.

“That the desire to be contactable and never left alone would become our own monkey on our own back. We require it.”

I met up with David in London to talk about chilling new ITV1 drama U Be Dead, which is screened at 9pm on Sunday.

The one-off film is based on the real life case of nightmare stalker Maria Marchese.

David plays the man she targeted – psychiatrist Dr Jan Falkowski – with Tara Fitzgerald as his then partner, and fellow victim, Debbie.

My feature on U Be Dead is here.

And you can read more about the case here.

A few weeks earlier I’d sat down with Tara to discuss the same issues.

She has had experience of unwanted attention in the past.

“There was someone a few years ago in a play I was doing. It’s weird to talk about it, because if you talk about it, it gives it a sort of credence. But nothing for years,” she said.

“I know that if you are hassled, the police are alerted to it. If it were to happen to someone like me, I’m actually more protected or looked after because people associate that with the profession, than somebody like Debbie.

“And you’re dealing with so many different levels of things, about people not believing you. It’s a grandoise idea that you would have a stalker.

“There are few things that can make you feel more isolated than this. It’s there and everywhere all the time.

“Everything is so immediate in our lives now. This story couldn’t have happened 20 years ago.

“Almost everybody is a celebrity in Twitterland. It means everybody has some kind of celebrity status.

“It makes one feel quite special. It’s like a story. It makes people feel they are more than they are.”

Tara as Debbie

Tara had a BlackBerry on the desk beside her as we spoke. Did she ever feel electronically tagged?

“I do sometimes. But then I think that’s a way to go that can send you slightly mad.

“I don’t have a Facebook, I don’t do Twitter. So to some degree one is in control of those things, and how public you want to go.

“The lines are so blurred now between virtual and reality. It’s quite slippery and I think a lot of us aren’t even conscious of it.

“For me, I feel strangely more anonymous. The more access everybody is granted, the more anonymous I feel. Which I quite like.”

David told me how he had been filming in Brighton earlier this year and couldn’t get a signal on his phone.

“I was really frustrated. It took me a good three or four hours to go, ‘This is brilliant.’

“I think we forget that you can turn it off.”


Maria – played in the drama by Monica Dolan – is still in prison but could be released in 2012.

Google her and you will discover there is already a Maria Marchese on Twitter – a totally unrelated woman in America who may not even realise the significance of her name.