When Senior Investigating Officer Steve Fulcher began leading the search for a missing woman, little did he know that the traumatic case would end in him losing his career.
The fascinating true story of the search for Sian O’Callaghan, Becky Godden and the man who took them, Christopher Halliwell, has been adapted into drama series A Confession, based on Fulcher’s memoir.
Here’s all you need to know about who stars in it.
Steve Fulcher (Played by Martin Freeman)
Starring as Senior Investigating Officer Steve Fulcher is Sherlock and The Hobbit actor Martin Freeman.
Fulcher led the investigation to find missing Sian and followed procedure to prioritise the victim’s life ahead of the suspect’s right to silence, believing that she could still be alive.
Martin said: “He treated it as an abduction. Even though he knew it was likely Sian would be dead, until he knows that - if there is a 1% chance she is still alive you want to do everything you can to find her. So he worked on the basis that she had been abducted and was still alive. I thoroughly respected the fact he was going to go the extra mile to find somebody.”
He managed to get a confession from Halliwell, who even showed him where the bodies were buried, but later found his decision not to read Halliwell his rights scrutinised to the point where he felt he needed to resign.
Freeman said: “The showdown between Steve Fulcher and Halliwell does read like fiction. You couldn’t make it up. It’s very dramatic. Halliwell has to feature in this drama because of the nature of the story. If we want to learn anything at all about human nature and why people do terrible things, you have to see them.
“This is a real story. About events that happened involving real people just a matter of years ago. There’s no point putting on a dramatic sheen over this because it does it itself. It’s dramatic enough. Those confession scenes are very dramatic. The events themselves are extraordinary.”
Fulcher, whose memoir was used as the basis of the drama, added: “Martin would text me during filming. In the middle of a scene he would get hold of me to ask, ‘How did you respond to this?’ Or, ‘How did you react to that?’ He is absolutely brilliant in this production. Martin has clearly assimilated the complexities of the case and also the basis of my character. Which I thought was extraordinary.
“I assumed actors would come in, do their lines and take directions. But Martin put a huge amount of effort into getting into the complexity of how I felt and how I responded at a given point in time. That personal contact was hugely useful, both ways.”
Karen Edwards (Played by Imelda Staunton)
One of Fulcher’s greatest supporters is Karen Edwards, the mother of Becky Godden who had been missing for eight years and whose body Halliwell showed police in a grave close to Sian’s.
When Fulcher’s following of police procedure was called into question, it had huge knock-on effects for whether Halliwell could be proved to have murdered Becky – but Karen stood by the detective and fought for justice for both him and her daughter.
She is played by Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter, Paddington) who said: “I think Karen was genuinely shocked by the way Steve was treated. He had supported her in her worst hour of need. And he did the right thing so she was never going to abandon him. Karen realised this was absolutely wrong and has campaigned for a change in the law for years and years.
“I was fortunate enough to meet Karen twice. It’s an extremely sensitive subject and not just about, ‘How can I play this woman?’
“What she has gone through is the worst nightmare for any parent. I could tap into her pain very easily. You wear it on your skin no matter how much time has passed or if justice has been done. It’s a part of you that will never change.”
Elaine O’Callaghan (Played by Siobhan Finneran)
Sian’s mother Elaine had a strange link to Karen, as the two families’ houses backed on to each other.
Elaine’s desperate search for her daughter included going through a press conference as the family believed she may still be alive somewhere, and she had the heartbreaking challenge of seeing Sian’s loved ones’ lives move on in the years after her death.
She is played by Siobhan Finneran (Cold Feet, Happy Valley) who met Elaine as part of her preparation for the role.
“There’s no question for me of doing an impression of Elaine,” she said. “I didn’t feel I had to meet her to see any little character things I could pick up on. I met her out of mutual respect. Especially with something as personal as this and she was absolutely delightful.
“When I met Elaine and her family, I got the feeling they are a very close family and always have been. I said to her son, ‘I just hope we get to portray that.’ The sense of what a strong family unit they are. That was important to me.”
Christopher Halliwell (Played by Joe Absolom)
Murderer Christopher Halliwell was working as a taxi driver, targeting women as he drove the area around Swindon.
Joe Absolom (Doc Martin, Suspects), who plays him, said: “I wanted to be equal to the role. I lost about a stone in weight to play the part. I wanted to do this as well as I could. To be honourable to the story in playing a horrible character. I wanted to get this right.
“Much as I don’t like Halliwell, you have to immerse yourself in his world. I ingested some of the odiousness. It affected me. At the end of the day it stuck with me. It was getting to me in a way that other roles haven’t. I found out a lot about Halliwell which was helpful for playing the part. But it didn’t help me sleep at night.”
The murderer had two daughters of his own, but managed to lead a shocking double life which detective Fulcher believes saw him commit a number of other crimes.
Fulcher said: “It is very unlikely that having killed Becky in 2003 and Sian in 2011, he committed no other offences in those eight years. We interviewed over 100 prostitutes working in the Swindon area and found several of them to have had near misses with Halliwell taking them into the Savernake Forest. He couldn’t remember which year he had killed Becky – ‘2003-4 or 5’. If there were only two seminal events in his life he could be expected to be precise.
“He was genuinely contrite in taking me to Becky’s grave, yet his description of the depth he had buried her led me to believe he had confused that site with other deposition sites. He said in prison that he was being questioned about eight murders - a specific number that neither I nor the team were aware of.”
Kevin Reape (Played by Charlie Cooper)
This Country's co-creator Charlie Cooper takes a break from playing Kurtan for his first drama acting role on TV.
Cooper plays Sian's boyfriend Kevin who flags her disappearance after she doesn't come home from a night out and stops responding to his messages. He is the initial prime suspect for the police investigation.
DCC Ray Hayward (Played by John Thomson)
The Fast Show and Cold Feet star appeared in episode one as Steve Fulcher's friend and colleague Deputy Chief Constable Ray Hayward.
Hayward was accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour and was due to face a tribunal for his actions and we saw him at the start of episode one expressing his fears to Fulcher.
Fulcher told Hayward that he would speak to the Chief Constable, but was warned to avoid speaking with his colleague by senior officers. At the end of episode one, we learn that Hayward has killed himself, making him a key suspect in the search for Sian.
Deborah Peach (Played by Faye McKeever)
You may recognise McKeever from her recent roles in Little Boy Blue, The Moorside or her role as Linda in Sky1 comdedy Trollied.
She plays a colleague of Fulcher in the Wiltshire police.
Mick O'Callaghan (Played by Ian Puleston-Davies)
The ex-Coronation Street star plays Sian's father and the ex of Elaine (Siobhan Finneran).
Aside from playing Owen Armstrong in Corrie, Ian's best known roles are in Pennyworth, Hatton Garden, Tin Star and Anna Friel's ITV drama Marcella.
DC Tracy Joyce (Played by Maimie McCoy)
Another colleague of Fulcher in the Wiltshire police, you probably recognise Maimie from her role as Milady de Winter in the BBC version of The Musketeers.
She's also starred in DCI Banks, Grantchester, Personal Affairs and Endeavour.
DS Sarah Bilson (Played by Caroline Bartleet)
Another member of the Wiltshire police force, you may recognise Caroline from the award-winning Murdered by Boyfriend and The Eichmann Show,
She has also won a BAFTA for the short film Operator, which starred Vicky McClure and Kate Dickie.
DI Steve Kirby (Played by David Nellist)
David Nellist is an experienced actor, who has previously starred in Sherlock as Mike Stamford, Taboo as Thomas Brooke esq and 55 Degrees North as Humby.
Ray Hayward's partner (Played by Lisa Faulkner)
The TV chef and actress had a small role in episode rwo as the grieving partner of Ray Hayward
DCC Ray Hayward had been found dead at his Wiltshire home following allegations of sexual assault Det Supt Steve Fulcher (Freeman) spoke to his colleague's partner (Faulkner) about the circumstances surrounding his death.
Faulkner's acting credits include EastEnders, Holby City and Murder in Suburbia.
After winning Celebrity MasterChef in 2010, she reduced her acting work and is now spotted on TV showing off her culinary skills more often than she is in TV dramas.
Tracey Mullane (Played by Morwenna Banks)
Tracey is the aunt of Becky Godden-Edwards, one of the victims of Christopher Halliwell.
She is plated by Morwenna Banks, the comedian and actress best known for voicing characters such as Mummy Pig and Madame Gazelle on the hits kids TV series Peppa Pig.
She's also appeared in The Thick of It, Red Dwarf, Skins, Shameless and Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul.
Yvonne Fulcher (Played by Kate Ashfield)
Fulcher's wife is played by Shaun of the Dead and Late Night Shopping actress Kate Ashfield.
You may recognise Kate from her roles in series one of Line of Duty as Jools Gates, US crime mystery series Secrets and Lies or the BBC drama about the Busby Babes, United.
Becky Godden-Edwards (Played by Stephanie Hyam)
Becky was Karen's missing daughter, who she had spent eight yars searching for, never giving up home that she would return home.
She is played by Bodyguard actress Stephanie Hyman, who played the mysterious personal assistant of Julia Montague, Chanel Dyson.
You may also have seen Hyam in Gentleman Jack, Doctor Who, Sherlock or as Michael's girlfriend Charlotte Murray in Peaky Blinders.
DS Eddie Strange (Played by Jason Milligan)
Another member of the Wltshire police, DS Eddie Strange features heavily in ITV's picture previews for episode 3.
He's played by Jason Milligan, who you may previously have watched in Strangers, Where the Heart Is or The Emperor's Wife.
DS Bob Cooper (Played by Dominic Tighe)
Fulcher's colleague, who was heavily involved in the arrest of Halliwell.
He's played by Dominic Tighe, whose TV credits include ITV's Next of Kin, The Honourable Woman, Call the Midwife and Footballers Wive$ Extra Time.
DCC Pat Geenty (Played by Gary Oliver)
A senior officer in Fulcher's team at Wiltshire police, the real life DCC took early retirement in 2015.
You may recognise the actor who plays him from his role as Ternesio Terys in Game of Thrones, or when he's popped up in ITV's period drama Victoria and comedy series Benidorm.
CC Brian Moore (Played by David Keeling)
Another one of Fulcher's superiors in the Wiltshire team.
David Keeling's acting credits include Strangers, Prisoners Wives, Murdered By My Boyfriend and cameos in EastEnders and Coronation Street.
Pete (Played by Derek Riddell)
Elaine's new partner, who works as a pilot, identified Sian's body for the police.
You will almost certainly have watched Riddell on TV or the big screen before. His TV credits include Shetland, The Missing, Happy Valley and W1A and he appeared in cinemas in Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
John Godden (Played by Christopher Fulford)
The father of Becky, who was separated from Karen. He confused Karen's search for her daughter by telling her that he had recently seen Becky alive.
The veteran British actor has appeared in some of the country's most popular TV shows such as Morse, Cracker, Prime Suspect, Dalziel and Pascoe, Murphy's Law, Wire in the Blood, Spooks, Judge John Deed, Waking the Dead and The Brief.
Charlie Edwards (Played by Peter Wight)
Peter Wight plays Karen's husband, who has supported her desperate search for Becky over many years.
You probably recognise Wight from his appearances in Hot Fuzz, Netflix's The Crown or ITV's recent Vanity Fair adaptation or as Nige in Early Doors.
Emma (Played by Rachel Shenton)
The Oscar-winning actress and writer is on the IMDB cast list for a role in the final episode as a character called Emma.
You will probably recognise Shenton from her stint as Mitzee Minniver in Channel 4's Hollyoaks, BBC Two comedy White Gold or in American series Switched at Birth as Lily Summers.
In 2018, she won the Oscar for best short film for The Silent Child, which she wrote and starred in.
Detective Superintendent Sean Memory (Played by Owain Arthur)
Detective Superintendent Sean Memory comes into significance in the show's episode 6 as Wiltshire Police are under pressure to start a new investigation into Becky’s murder.
You may recognise Owain from his 10-year stint on Casualty of his roles in The Palace, Hard Sun and Babylon.
A Confession airs Mondays at 9pm on ITV.
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