Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama and Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer, have commissioned brand new true crime drama The Sixth Commandment (w/t), which explores the death of Peter Farquhar in the village of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, and the extraordinary events that unfolded over the following three years.
The mini-series is written by Sarah Phelps, and produced by Wild Mercury Productions (a Banijay UK Company) and True Vision Productions.
It tells the story of how the meeting of an inspirational teacher, Peter Farquhar, and a charismatic young student, Ben Field, who bonded over their love of books and involvement with the Church Of England, set the stage for one of the most complex and confounding criminal cases in recent memory.
It also focuses on how suspicions around Ben’s relationship with Peter’s deeply religious neighbour Ann Moore-Martin, also targeted by Field, unlocked a series of stunning revelations, culminating in a headline-grabbing trial.
The Sixth Commandment (w/t) captures the initial seductions, the extreme gaslighting, the gripping police investigation and Peter’s killer finally being brought to justice four years after his untimely death. While poignantly highlighting the damaging effect of isolation and loneliness, it also celebrates both Peter and Ann’s lives as cherished mentors, much loved relatives and adored friends.
Sarah Phelps, writer and Executive Producer, said: “This is such a shocking and brutal case; how a murderer hid his manipulation and malevolence in plain sight of a small community, how he insinuated his way into the lives of his victims. It’s a heartbreaking story of such desperate longing and loneliness but even within the darkness, there is the most astonishing blazing love and courage. I’m honoured to have been asked to write this drama and to be trusted with the memories and experiences of Peter and Ann’s families.”
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, said: “The death of Peter Farquhar and the grooming of Ann Moore-Martin at the hands of Ben Field shocked the small church-going community in which these crimes took place. Who better than Sarah Phelps, with her vivid imagination and forensic understanding of the criminal mind, to tell this tragic story and to honour the memory of its victims.”
Derek Wax, Executive Producer for Wild Mercury said: “I feel honoured that Wild Mercury have the opportunity to tell this extraordinary story. Working with True Vision, who have formed strong bonds with both Peter and Ann’s families, the BBC, who are pioneers of factual dramas, and, of course, the brilliant Sarah Phelps, we will aim to get the heart of this deeply disturbing criminal case.”
Brian Woods, Executive Producer for True Vision said: “Having followed the police investigation over 3 years we were delighted when the families of both Peter and Ann agreed to support this powerful story being serialised. This drama will show how these two vibrant and complex souls were groomed and manipulated by an evil predator. And we hope this series will raise awareness of how vulnerable those living alone can sometimes become.”
‘The Sixth Commandment’ (w/t) is a Wild Mercury and True Vision production for BBC One. The mini-series is executive produced by Sarah Phelps, Derek Wax for Wild Mercury Productions, Brian Woods and Jezza Neumann for True Vision Productions and Tommy Bulfin for the BBC. ‘The Sixth Commandment’ (w/t) is being distributed internationally by Banijay Rights.
Casting and filming dates will be announced in due course.