Virtual Murder

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Virtual Murder
Virtual Murder.jpg
Kim Thomson as Samantha Valentine and Nicholas Clay as Dr. John Cornelius in Virtual Murder
Format Drama
Mystery
Created by Harry Robertson and Brian Degas
Starring Nicholas Clay
Kim Thomson
Stephen Yardley
Jude Akuwuike
Alan David
Carole Boyd
Theme music composer Harry Robertson
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 6
Production
Executive producer(s) Barry Hanson
Producer(s) Harry Robertson and Brian Degas
Running time c. 50 minutes per episode
Broadcast
Original channel BBC1
Original run 24 July 1992 – 28 August 1992

Virtual Murder was an unusual investigative drama series shown on BBC television in 1992. It starred Nicholas Clay as Dr John Cornelius, a psychology lecturer at a provincial university, and Kim Thomson as his vivacious, red-headed partner, Samantha Valentine.

Subject matter and cast[edit]

Virtual Murder was in the mould of some earlier off-beat series, such as The Avengers and Adam Adamant Lives!, both shown in the 1960s. Like Steed and Emma Peel or Adam Adamant and Georgina Jones, Cornelius ("JC") and Valentine investigated a succession of rather eccentric or bizarre occurrences. They often did so in cooperation with the police, represented by Stephen Yardley as Inspector Cadogan and Jude Akuwuike as Sergeant Gummer. Complementing the occult elements and those of virtual reality, there was a thread of playful, sometimes dark humour running through the scripts and an underlying sexual frisson between Clay and Thomson.

Other regular characters were Professor Owen Griffiths (Alan David) and Phoebe Littlejohn (Carole Boyd, best known for her role as Lynda Snell in BBC radio’s The Archers).

Production[edit]

The series was created and produced at the BBC’s Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham by Brian Degas,[1] a scriptwriter for the film Barbarella (1968) and co-creator of the TV series Colditz (1972), and Harry Robertson, best known as a composer of film music (mostly under the name of Harry Robinson).[2] The original title of the series was Nimrod but this was changed to Virtual Murder – this was the original title of the script for what was intended to be the first episode, later renamed “Dreams Imagic”.[3] As things transpired “Dreams Imagic” was, in fact, the last episode to be broadcast. Direction of the episodes was shared between Philip Draycott[4] and Peter Rose[5] with the episodes recorded between 12 August 1991 and 28 February 1992 on location in Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Kidderminster and Wolverhampton as well as at Studio A in Pebble Mill.[3] All but “Dreams Imagic” had an array of guest stars.

The series[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Six episodes of Virtual Murder were made and broadcast by the BBC on Friday evenings in 1992:[6]

  • Dreams Imagic (broadcast 28 August 1992 at 9:32pm): script: Harry Roberston; director: Peter Rose; guest stars: Sean Pertwee, Tim Preece

Critical reaction[edit]

On the whole, the series received a lukewarm critical response with Lynne Truss in The Times summing it up as “The Avengers re-written by someone who heard about it once but never actually saw it”.[7] Another commentator, who, on balance, judged the series a failure, described it as being pitched "uncomfortabl[y] somewhere between the camp of The Avengers and the dark fantasy of The X-Files",[8] although the latter highly-acclaimed American science fiction series post-dates Virtual Murder by over a year. Others have blamed the summer evening scheduling for jeopardising its chances of success.[9]

Ratings fell from 6.53 million for the opening episode to 4.9 million for the fourth episode and the series was not renewed for a second season.[10] Virtual Murder is well regarded in some quarters: for example, the eminent television historian Andrew Pixley, recalling the show in 2002, wrote, “Finally, I thought, somebody had been brave enough to craft a modern thriller which, while captured on videotape, boasted all the style, fun and imagination of the great British film series of the 1960s such as The Avengers and Department S”.[11] However, the series remains largely forgotten today and, as of late 2010, has never been repeated, nor released in any video format.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Brian Degas at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Harry Robertson at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ a b Pixley, Andrew (1997). "The Murder of a Series (in the Summer graveyard slot)". TV Zone (Special #26: Anniversaries Special '97): p. 8–11. ISSN 0960-8230. 
  4. ^ Philip Draycott at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ Peter Rose at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ "Virtual Murder". BBC Programme Catalogue. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2007-01-06. 
  7. ^ Truss, Lynne (1992-08-08). "TV Review: Fifty Ways to End it All". The Times (News Corp.). 
  8. ^ "Virtual Murder [1992]". EOFFTV. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  9. ^ See, for example: Seymour, Kieran (2002). "Virtual Murder Episode Guide". Action TV Online. Archived from the original on 2006-10-08. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  10. ^ May, Dominic; Clark, Stuart & Yau, Edward (October 1992). "News: Ratings". TV Zone (35): p.4. ISSN 0957-9844. 
  11. ^ Pixley, Andrew (2002). "Virtual Murder". TV Zone (Special #45: TV Heroes): p. 30. 

External links[edit]