Messiah (TV series)

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Messiah is a British television drama series, broadcast on the BBC One network and produced in-house by BBC Northern Ireland, although the series itself is set in England. Made up of a series of occasional serials, the first, with two parts subtitled The First Killings & The Reckoning, was broadcast in 2001. It has been followed by Messiah 2: Vengeance is Mine (2003), Messiah III: The Promise (2004), Messiah IV: The Harrowing (2005) and most recently Messiah V: The Rapture (2008). The original production was based on a novel by Boris Starling: the subsequent installments have been written directly for television. Starling has a cameo as a murder victim's corpse in the first serial.

A crime series, it follows the investigations of DCI Red Metcalfe, who often investigates particularly gruesome murders. Metcalfe is played by Scottish actor Ken Stott, and the other main regulars in the series are Kate Beauchamp (Frances Grey), Duncan Warren (Neil Dudgeon) and Metcalfe's wife Susan (Michelle Forbes). The deafness of Forbes' character necessitated both her and Stott learning British Sign Language for their characters' frequent exchanges.

The series[edit]

Messiah, strictly speaking, relates only to the original series, where a serial killer sets out to kill twelve (actually eleven) men with the same names as the Apostles, in the same way that the original Apostles were killed according to tradition, e.g. St Bartholomew being flayed alive and St Peter crucified head down. The killer does this out of revenge and the deluded belief of being himself also immortal, a second Messiah.

Messiah II: Vengeance Is Mine, deals with a serial killer who murders all those implicated in the wrongful imprisonment of his or her father.

Messiah III: The Promise, begins with a prison riot, in which Kate Beauchamp is held hostage and almost killed. The action moves on to a hospital where those injured in the riot are being treated. From then on, everyone who threatened or harmed Beauchamp ends up dead.

Messiah IV: The Harrowing, deals with Metcalf and his team having to catch a killer who murders his or her victims in elaborate / strange ways. The killings are based on The Divine Comedy by Dante.

Messiah V: The Rapture, Marc Warren is the new lead, starring as DCI Joseph Walker. The two-parter, which aired in January 2008, featured a crack den massacre, an acid attack, and a murder victim with her heart cut out. Also two sisters are hanged wearing men’s clothes.

Cast overview[edit]

Character Actor
Eric Metcalfe Kieran O'Brien
Charlotte Juliet Diamond
D.C.I. Redfern 'Red' Metcalfe Ken Stott
DCI Joseph Walker Marc Warren
Philip Blake Tony Lucken
D.S. Kate Beauchamp Frances Grey
Alison Reeves Serena Gordon
D.S. Jez Clifton Jamie Draven
D.C. Freeman Howard Crossley
D.C. Nixon Raymond Trickitt
Bishop James Perch Ernie Cooke
D.I. Duncan Warren Neil Dudgeon
D.C.S. Emerson Art Malik
Susan Metcalfe Michelle Forbes
Artist in Gallery Piers Houlin

Alternative ending[edit]

In Boris Starling's novel, just as in the TV adaptation, Red is attacked by Jez in his flat. However, in the book there are some differences from the TV series. The final action in the novel takes place at Easter, traditionally the time when Judas Iscariot (to whom Jez likens Red) hanged himself. Red manages to haul Jez over the banister, and they both crash to the floor. With Jez injured, Red strips him and crucifies him across a doorway, in an act of poetic justice (if Jez thought he was Christ, then he should die like him). In the TV adaptation, Jez is about to hang Red in Red's staircase, but just about to, he is interrupted by Red's deaf wife, starting to fight against Jez who falls down the staircase together with Red. Red survives paradoxically because of the rope around his neck which he manages to grab, while Jez (ironically) gets no grip and falls to his death, shaped like a cross. In the book adaptation, after having killed Jez, Red hands himself in to the police, with DS Beauchamp and is sent to prison. Though bleaker, this ending correlates with the tone of Starling's book. By the end, Red's marriage to Susan (who, in the book, is not deaf) has collapsed and the case has driven him to near madness.


The first Messiah (based on the book by Boris Starling) was scripted by Lizzie Mickery. who also wrote Messiah 2 and 3. Messiah IV was written by Terry Cafolla.


The Messiah series have typically used famous pieces of classical music on their trailers. For Messiah 2, they used Carl Orff's Fortune plango vulnera and his O Fortuna for Messiah III (they are the first two pieces of Orff's Carmina Burana). For the Messiah IV trails, they used Agnus Dei, by Samuel Barber.

Broadcast dates[edit]

Messiah was first broadcast over a Bank Holiday weekend (starting 26 May) 2001. Messiah II was originally scheduled for 24 and 25 August 2002, but was pulled at the last moment because of the Soham Murders; it was eventually broadcast in 2003. Messiah III was shown on 30 and 31 August 2004. Messiah IV was split into three episodes (the others had been shown in two), starting on 28 August 2005. Messiah V was shown in two parts on 20 and 21 January 2008.

External links[edit]