Touched by Malice; Will Marlow Finds Why Playing a Merry Murderer in a New Period Drama Left Eclectic Actor Ben Miller Red Faced

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Byline: Will Marlow

VIEWERS tuning in to ITV's latest period drama Malice Aforethought might want to prepare themselves before they settle down expecting a pleasant period piece, albeit one about a serial killer.

For, despite the gentle tone and humorous touch of actor Ben Miller, who plays merry murderer Dr Edmund Bickleigh, the two-part drama does feature some few-holds-barred sex scenes.

'Yes, sorry about that,' says Ben with a wry grin. 'It's quite subversive in that way. But the story is about sex. That's the reason Dr Bickleigh starts to commit these murders. He's almost what you'd call a sex addict.'He's obsessed with it and is having sex with as many people in the village as he possibly can.

He's so obsessive that when something gets in the way of it he'll try and get rid of that thing by whatever means possible.

'So yes, the way sex is treated in this drama, you know you're not watching an Agatha Christie.'

And yet Malice Aforethought, based on the novel by Anthony Berkeley, has the feel of one of Agatha Christie's murder mysteries. Set in a picturesque village in the 1930s we soon see that all is not as it seems in the well-to-do community.

Local GP Dr Bickleigh is in an unhappy marriage with his wife Julia, played by Barbara Flynn, and eases the tension in his affair with local girl Ivy.

'Sex scenes are embarrassing,' laughs Ben. 'There's three stages with them. The first stage is acute embarrassment where you both sit down, you don't even know the the actress particularly well, and awkwardly discuss the scene.

'Then the embarrassment continues when you get on set and you're saying things like, 'Sorry, do you mind if I put my hand here? …