Saturday, 29 November 2014

Christopher Jefferies: Drama

The retired teacher vilified by the press after he was arrested on suspicion of murdering his tenant Joanna Yeates is the subject of a two-part drama

Christopher Jefferies couldn't bear to watch his arrest acted out for a new ITV drama, he's told Radio Times.

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies has been written by Peter Morgan – the man behind critically acclaimed Frost/Nixon and The Queen – with W1A actor Jason Watkins (in character above) playing the retired schoolteacher. It dramatises the month after Jefferies was arrested on suspicion of killing landscape artist Joanna Yeates in December 2010, and the shocking way he was subsequently hounded and demonised by the tabloid press.

Jefferies was later released without charge and another of his tenants, Dutch engineer Vincent Tabak, was ultimately convicted of Yeates' murder.

During filming the director – Roger Michell, a former pupil of Jefferies – invited him on set to watch the arrest scene but the retired schoolteacher found he couldn't watch.

"It didn't seem to be to be necessarily the most sensitive thing to invite me to go and see," Jefferies has told Radio Times magazine. "There were 13 takes and because my arrest is done in the film exactly as it happened, I found it quite impossible to watch Jason in that scene."

Otherwise he says he was dispassionate watching Watkin's replay that traumatic episode in his life.

"Although I appear played by a character who looks remarkably like me, or who was made up to look remarkably like me, probably what comes across -– but obviously I am not the best person to judge – is that this is somebody who represents or caricatures certain aspects of me, exaggerated and separated, as it were, from the whole, in order to make the point Peter Morgan wanted to make.

"So, in a sense, I suppose the writer was using me and what happened to me to say something that he particularly wanted to say about British society."

Radio Times - full version in print magazine.

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, ITV Wednesday December 10th.
The Ordeal Of Christopher Jefferies, excellent piece on this shameful episode and a rare in-depth interview with CJ, FT Weekend 2011. 

Update: Peter Morgan and Christopher Jefferies in The Guardian.

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