Landscapers is the latest series from Sky in combination with HBO and comes from the mind of Ed Sinclair and is directed by Will Sharpe (“The Electrical Life of Louis Wain”, “Flowers (TV)”).
The story is true, whether this adaptation is, well, that’s not made entirely clear by the makers, I suspect it is somewhere in between. What it is though, is absolutely brilliant.
The Edwardses story is that in 1998 Susan Edwards, with the help of her husband Christopher, murdered her parents for money, and then spent thousands of pounds on celebrity autographs and other Hollywood memorabilia. To this day, the couple protest their innocence.
We kick things off as the Edwards are in France, having fled their home in Mansfield, Nottingham, after the killing. Christopher is trying to get a job but, well, he doesn’t speak a lot of French so is having some issues.
Susan on the other hand does seem to speak French, rather well, but it’s not clear at the moment why she doesn’t get a job. Christopher says she’s ‘delicate’, but no-one is quite sure what that means. She is perpetually smiling, other than when she’s crying, and has a fondness for old-western movies and Gérard Depardieu, whom the couple write to.
Anyway, as their financial troubles continue to rise, Christopher is forced to telephone his step-mother and ask for money. Whilst on the phone with her he, inexplicably, tells her that Susan’s parents are buried in the back garden of their former Mansfield home. She, naturally, phones the police.
Enter police officers Kate O’Flynn (“Wanderlust (TV)”, “Peterloo”) and Samuel Anderson (“Gunpowder Milkshake”, “Sweetheart”) and their sweary and explosive boss Daniel Rigby (“Flowers (TV)”, “Watership Down (TV)”).
They find the bodies but don’t have enough to get a European Arrest Warrant for the Edwards so Rigby emails Christopher a rather polite email saying, “it would be nice to get a phone number for you, even better if we could talk in person”.
Christopher replies saying he would relish the opportunity, but he’s not sure when the couple will be returning to the UK, but let’s stay in touch. Eventually though, they do elect to return to the UK, though they ask the police to stump up the cash for the train ticket.
On their return they are promptly arrested, by a lot of police, including armed officers and police on horseback, all for this plain, old English couple from Mansfield who don’t look like they could hurt a fly.
Sinclair has punctuated Landscapers with the darkest of dark humour, but my god it’s funny. The juxtaposition between this older couple, happy to be together, the ever smiling Susan, the, you get the impression, happy to go along with whatever his wife says Christopher, and the sweary, name-calling police officers is a touch of brilliance.
Rigby is superb as the officer in charge whilst O’Flynn and her partner, as Rigby calls him to his face, ‘thick as two short planks’ Anderson are the perfect buddy-cop duo. Coleman and Thewlis meanwhile excel as we already know they can.
Sharpe gives the whole episode an almost play feel, at the end we see the tear down of the sets and certain scenes are in black and white, harking to the cowboy films Susan so loves.
The decision not to, thus far at least, actually show the murders, or really give us anything on that front, helps keep the whole episode light and you’ve no guilt for laughing at the dark humour. I hope the rest of the episodes are as good as this one.
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7th December 2021
THE QUICK SELL
Christopher Edwards places a desperate call to his stepmother, but when she relays the details of their conversation to the police, a resulting double homicide investigation quickly builds steam.
TV / STREAMING PLATFORM