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DVD Review

DVD cover

Appropriate Adult


Starring: Emily Watson, Dominic West and Monica Dolan
ITV Studios Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 30 September 2011

This drama focuses on Janet Leach, the woman who took on the role of the “appropriate adult” during the police interviews of Fred West, during the time between his arrest and his suicide on New Year’s Day 1995. “Appropriate adults” are appointed to sit in on police interviews with children or vulnerable adults to safeguard their interests.

Award-winning writer Neil McKay brings to life this script which claims to offer a unique insight into the police investigation which led to the conviction of Fred and Rose West and the crucial role Janet Leach played. Sadly it never quite manages to do deliver what it promises. Partly based on fact, but with a large amount of fictional sequences, this drama is likely to muddle the controversial facts of Fred and Rosemary West's reign of terror. There are a few elements that we have to take Leach's word for and, as it's known that she lied under oath, how can we trust anything the woman says. She claims that Fred told her in confidence that he was witness to a large number of children killed in a barn years before he met Rose... but did he? We only have Leach's word for this.

Anyone hoping for a look at the police investigation into how the West's were caught and brought to justice are going to be disappointed. Likewise, anyone who is looking for a timeline of events and is keen to discover how the pair managed to kill so many innocent people are also likely to come away scratching their head. This is mainly down to the fact that no one to this day really knows everything that did happen.

What this drama does is tell the tale from Leach's point of view. In fact the whole story seems to be her justification for why she did the things she did (i.e. sell her story to the papers and then lie about it in court while under oath).

Emily Watson is fantastic in the role of Leach. Equally, Dominic West (as Fred) and Monica Dolan (as Rose) are chillingly believable. Dominic West, in particular, comes across as charming and funny one minute and unhinged and childlike the next. I don't know if this is accurate of Fred's personality, but it makes for a chilling performance.

While the acting and production values are flawless, I had issue with the whole story. The production uses the notoriety of the West's in order to springboard a pretty ropey drama.

While it's claimed that this drama is based on Janet Leach's autobiography I couldn't help thinking that she was attempting to cash in on her time being Fred's appropriate adult. She is portrayed as a pretty weak individual who has problems at home. All this leads up to the scene where she lies under oath in court... To me, it felt like the core of this story was an attempt to clear her name, not explore the mind of a twisted killer.

If you come to this with an open mind, and don't expect it to answer anything about the West's, then you'll probably enjoy it. Personally I thought it was a bit of a missed opportunity.


Darren Rea

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