Following the success of one-off Victorian drama The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, aka The Murder at Road Hill House, shown on British television in 2011, a follow up was commissioned. Again it stars Paddy Considine as the title character and again it’s based on a book by Kate Summerscale, but unlike the infamous story of Constance Kent, The Murder in Angel Lane is entirely fictitious. Angel Lane is set several years after the 1860 case that ruined Jack Whicher’s career in the Police force. Whicher is now working as an occasional private detective and living in modest, if not squalid conditions. He is a different character now, a paranoid, broken man, disheveled and ignored.
Lucinda Wright thankfully returns as costume designer having done such a spectacular job first time around (read our original interview HERE). The tone and palette is murkier, with London itself the primary backdrop rather than the rural South West. We caught up with Lucinda Wright to get a brief lowdown on her approach to Angel Lane and for costuming the new and important character of Susan Spencer (played by Olivia Colman):
“My research followed the same path as before: reading many costume books, studying paintings, looking at costumes in museums – the Fashion Museum in Bath and the V&A in London. It was important to follow the script in its mood of dark and grubby London town in contrast to the open softer countryside seen in the first Mr Whicher.
I did re-use many of my notes to remind myself of the mental torture Whicher suffered because of the outcome of the Constance Kent victory, but in terms of costume it was important to give a harder, sharper silhouette to the working class of the city and a dreamy and slightly timeless world in the asylum – like Joshua Gann’s (Sean Baker), the father’s, costume.
In the opening of Angel Lane, the script originally had Whicher returning from his allotment in gardening clothes carrying a basket of vegetables, etc during the day, but we elbowed the basket as it would get in the way, and also drive Paddy mad. Plus it eventually became a night scene as well. Jack now lived with his niece gardening, reading and regretting Constance Kent, I think!
Later it was important to show that Jack’s back, in control in his detective look so the same hat, coat and heart watch chain from the first Mr Whicher went back on.
As Susan Spencer, Olivia Colman’s first outfit had to reveal wealth, being completely out of place in that world (London) and hopefully this was achieved by the use of colour in cotton brocade and silks and lovely fur. It was an added bonus that when we went to film it snowed heavily so completed the look. We needed to put white against the dark to give a strong visual image at the opening of the drama.
We had one mourning dress for Olivia due to the very small budget. I used various accessories: shawl, different earrings, belt, hats and brooches – one with her ‘niece’, Mary Drew’s hair in it. Olivia’s last dress needed to be out of mourning, to have an uplifting end so I based it on the locket that she had given to Mary of green, blue and gold. Also she wears the actual locket in that scene as well.
Chief Inspector ‘Dolly’ Williamson’s (William Beck) costume reflected his promotion and the contrast to Jack’s scruffy first appearance. The dandy now is the character of Inspector George Lock (Shaun Dingwall, above)
I wanted to keep a strict colour palette of black, greys, purples and greens to London town, as seen on Creed’s Woman (Carolyn Tomkinson), the prostitute, and then reds and browns to the asylum – a softer look.”
With thanks to Lucinda Wright.
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: The Murder in Angel Lane was shown on ITV1 in May.
You can watch Paddy Considine in The Suspicions of Mr Whicher at LOVEFiLM.com.
© 2013 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.