The Murder Game
Narrator: Rupert Smith
Fox for BBC One, 29 March to 17 May 2003 (8 episodes in 1 series)
as Inside HQ: BBC Three, 29 March to 17 May 2003 (8 episodes in 1 series)
This was meant to be the BBC's big show of Spring 2003 and it flopped miserably. Which is a shame, because whilst as a show it was often confused it was plenty entertaining for those who were willing to stuck with it.
Filmed on location in Maldon in Essex, The Murder Game concerned ten investigators (led by real life investigator Bob Taylor) converging on the fictional village of Blackwater to solve the fictional murder of fictional character Catherine Prior.
The contestants had been given a brief training course in police investigative techniques beforehand and this would prove important in the weeks to come. The investigators would be split into two or three teams and would be given the sorts of tasks that proper police investigators would do during murder enquiries - interview the suspects, find and analyse pieces of evidence and so on. If the teams carry out their jobs correctly then they are praised and are immune from the elimination vote. If the teams don't do their job correctly then they are eligible to play The Killer's Game and Bob's back-up team "find" anything that was left behind, so the story can flow as written.
Ah, The Killer's Game. The murderer is a bit of a Se7en style serial killer as it turns out, and enjoys playing with the villagers and the investigators. During each episode, the killer leaves instructions for two investigators to go to two different rundown, dark, claustrophobic areas. Waiting at the end of one trail is a clue, which normally eliminates one of the village suspects. At the end of the other: the killer lies in wait, awaiting their next victim, so the players selected to play have a 50% chance of survival and will have to face their peers afterwards. The lead investigator (normally chosen in the filmed last will and testement of the last person to be eliminated) must pick someone to play and is immune from the vote, the second player is voted for by the other investigators. They are blindfolded and dropped off at the relevant areas and must search the areas using only a flashlight. The Killer's Game is terrifying, and really neatly done, clearly taking notes from popular survival-horror computer games of the time. There are plenty of cat scares and random special effects to keep the unlucky investigators and viewers on their toes. However, whether this fit in with the rest of the show proved a big bone of contention to many people.
As for the story itself, there were enough interesting set pieces and twists and turns to keep the show intriguing.
Based on the US format Murder in Small Town X.
Eventual winner Andrew Weaver inexplicably surviving six Killer's Games.
The killer was the builder, Trevor Dobie.
"Good luck. I think you are going to need it."