The Sixth Commandment viewers left in awe by Timothy Spall

The Sixth Commandment viewers are blown away by Timothy Spall’s performance as a gay academic murdered by churchwarden – as they demand he wins a BAFTA

  • BBC’s The Sixth Commandment viewers were amazed by Timothy’s performance
  • Read more:  Who was Peter Farquhar? The shocking true story behind his murder

Viewers were blown away by Timothy Spall’s performance as a gay academic murdered by a churchwarden in new drama The Sixth Commandment last night.

Peter Farquhar suffered a campaign of gaslighting and physical and mental torture at the hands of 32-year-old church warden Benjamin Field before being murdered in 2016. 

In the first episode of the drama, Peter, played by Timothy, could be seen struggling with his sexuality, religion as a Christian and loneliness, before he meets Field, played by Éanna Hardwick.

Peter quickly falls in love with Field, who moves in with him as a lodger before the two get engaged – but by the end of the episode, Peter’s health is failing and his body is found by his cleaner.

Many of those watching the programme confessed they had been blown away by his performance, with one writing: ‘#TheSixthCommandment, an incredible hard watch.   

Viewers were blown away by Timothy Spall’s performance as Peter Farquhar, a gay academic murdered by a churchwarden, in new drama The Sixth Commandment last night

‘Timothy Spall is an incredible actor. Every detail of his acting is perfection. An absolute national treasure.’ 

Another wrote: ‘That was an astonishing first episode of the true-life drama. Timothy Spall with the performance of his life and Eanna Hardwicke sensationally chilling as the murderer.

‘Acting of the highest order and script-writing off the scale. Unmissable.’ 

A third commented: ‘Bafta winning hideousness on display from the revolting villain of The Sixth Commandment.

‘Brilliant drama on BBC by Sarah Phelps. Timothy Spall and Anne Reid superb.’

A fourth added: ‘This is so brutally heartbreaking.’

 Another wrote: ‘I said it’s going off if it’s one of those BBC dramas that labour the plot slowly/by numbers.

‘Well it didn’t, and it’s superb. Give Timothy Spall a BAFTA.’ 

In the first episode of the series, Peter is shown struggling with his sexuality along with his religion, saying: ‘I do not think it is possible for me to be loved, in that way. It’s just not possible.’

He leaves his position at Stowe, and begins teaching at Buckingham University where he meets Field.

While out in town, he bumps into Field, before he invited the younger man back to his home for tea and cake. 

In the first episode of the drama, Peter, played by Timothy, could be seen struggling with his sexuality, religion as a Christian and loneliness, before he meets Field, played by Éanna Hardwick (pictured, Field in the drama) 

He asks him: ‘Do you have a partner? I wondered if you had a man to share your life with.’

Peter tells him he is ‘very much single’, before Field says: ‘I think that is a shame.’

The older man confesses he’s thinking about taking in a lodger, with Field moving in alongside a friend, Martin. 

Field joins Peter at church for a service, while Peter waxes lyrical about the younger man to his brother.

It’s not long before Field tells Peter: ‘I’ve split from my girlfriend. I wasn’t being honest with her. I’ve developed feelings for someone else.’

Later, they go for a walk, with Field telling Peter: ‘I’ve fallen in love with you. I love you. With all my heart, with everything that I have, with all that I am, I love you.’

Peter says: ‘I don’t believe it.’

But then Ben gets down  on one knee, and asks Peter to be betrothed to him, with Peter confessing: ‘Yes, I love you too.’ 

During the first episode last night, Field moves into Peter’s home before proposing to him – and the two have a betrothal ceremony

Ever the devout Christian, Peter is shown going to church and thanking god for Field.

The men are shown having a commitment ceremony privately with a vicar friend of Peter, promising to ‘honour, love and cherish’ one another for their entire lives. 

Peter tells Field he ‘doesn’t want sex’, saying: ‘I want to hold and be held.’

But it’s not long before Field takes an interest in the neighbours – asking about Ann Moore-Martin.

When Peter tells his brother Ian about the relationship, he also says: ‘I’ve changed my will to reflect my relationship with Ben, he’s now my main beneficiary.’

The two men quickly argue, with Ian telling him: ‘Have you gone mad?’ 

Meanwhile Field starts bringing Peter all of his meals and drinks, promising to wait on him hand and foot. 

However it’s not long before Peter’s health begins to decline, and he falls down the stairs in his home 

Peter’s university students notice he appears confused in class, and he struggles to move around his home at night, before falling down the stairs.

He is referred to a neurologist, who tells him there is nothing on his head or spine, but he continues to feel unwell and collapses at an event for his new book.

He becomes more and more frail, even unable to hold a pen, telling Field: ‘I don’t know what’s happening to me.’ 

He is booked into a hospital to get some rest bite and, out of Field’s clutches, his health appears to miraculously improve. 

But by the end of the episode, Peter has collapsed at home – with his cleaner finding his body – while Field is shown connecting more and more with Ann.

In reality, Mr Farquhar, who had struggled with his sexuality for years, had taught English at the private Manchester Grammar School before moving to the prestigious Stowe in 1983.

He was head of English there for 21 years, before deciding to retire in 2004 so he could write novels.

Field was a 20-year-old undergraduate student when he first met Mr Farquhar.

On discovering that both he and his neighbour were wealthy, Field decided to seduce them to get his hands on their money.

Pretending to be in love first with Mr Farquhar and then Miss Moore-Martin, he was sexually intimate with both, despite dismissing his male partner as a ‘faggot’ and having feelings of ‘indifference’ towards his female victim.

Many of those people watching the drama last night confessed they were blown away by Timothy’s performance 

Once he had gained their trust, Field carried out sinister mind games and plied the pair with alcohol and drugs.

READ MORE: Who was Peter Farquhar? The shocking true story behind his murder

Mr Farquhar’s health deteriorated to the point where he was at times rambling, incoherent and suffering from hallucinations.

In the mornings he would often find himself covered in bruises and his prized possessions missing, with no memory of what had happened.

‘I am finding more joy in life now than ever before in my swift 23 years,’ Field wrote as he began his campaign of abuse.

After his arrest, police uncovered a list of potential future victims which included his own parents and grandparents.

He also fantasised in notebooks about a nighttime murder rampage, predicting he could kill up to 50 people in a single spree.

When Mr Farquhar was found dead by his cleaner in October 2015, the first person she called after the emergency services was Field, who everyone believed was his loyal partner.

In March the previous year, the pair had pledged themselves to one another in a London church service.

Timothy Spall, who is portraying murdered retired teacher Peter Farquhar (right) in new drama the Sixth Commandment, has told how the victim was outwardly ‘vivacious’ but suffered from ‘loneliness’ and a ‘desire for affection’

Mr Farquhar suffered a campaign of gaslighting and physical and mental torture at the hands of 32-year-old Field (right), who is serving a minimum 36-year prison sentence for his murder. Field is portrayed by 26-year-old Irish star Éanna Hardwicke (left)

Undated handout photo issued by Thames Valley Police of Peter Farqhuar (right) and Benjamin Field

The day was particularly special for Mr Farquhar, who wrote in his journal: ‘It is one of the happiest moments of my life. Gone are the fears of dying alone.’

Describing his initial encounter with Mr Farquhar, who was a guest lecturer at his university, Field boasted of the pair’s ‘vulgarly commercial’ relationship.

‘He gives me things, and he gets me for a length of time,’ he wrote.

He explained the relationship in even cruder terms to a friend, writing:

‘He and I have struck a deal which is I pay for nothing and will hang out with him until his eventual death win/win… I’m p [pretty] comfortable w/death.’

Field and a university friend moved into Mr Farquhar’s home as lodgers in 2013.

At the time, he was working in the bakery section at Tesco and as a carer at a nearby nursing home.

Retired English teacher Peter Farquhar (left) was murdered by Benjamin Field in 2019 in a case that shocked the nation. New BBC drama the Sixth Commandment sees Timothy Spall (right, in character) portray him

There he filmed himself tormenting a resident, telling her she didn’t ‘have any friends and you have never married’.

In 2014, the same month as his and Mr Farquhar’s church ceremony, Field began a relationship with another woman, Setara Pracha, an admissions tutor at Buckingham Universtiy, where he had been a student.

He went on to become a deputy church warden at St Mary’s Church in Stowe and boasted to a friend how he was going to become a vicar.

The abuse he subjected Mr Farquhar to included torturing a pet chihuahua he had given him and making him believe he had dementia.

After his will had been changed in Field’s favour, Mr Farquhar was murdered. He was found to have consumed prescription sedatives and alcohol, and police believe he may also have been suffocated with a pillow.

Anne Moore-Martin, 83, was Field’s second victim. She too was seduced by the criminal. She is portrayed in the upcoming drama by Anne Reid, 88

Field initially avoided suspicion and pocketed £20,000 from his victim’s will. When Mr Farquhar’s house was sold by his brother, Field got a further £142,000.

He then moved on to his second victim, Ms Moore-Martin, who he had been introduced to by Mr Farquhar.

The retired teacher and devout Catholic quickly fell under his spell, giving him a key to her house and telling friends she loved him.

Above her dressing table she even hung a framed photograph of him bearing the words: ‘I am always with you’.

In 2016, she gave him £4,000 to buy a car. Having no intention of actually purchasing a vehicle with the money, Field hired a car for a day to dupe her.

He then conned the woman out of £27,000 telling her ne needed the money to help his brother, who he claimed was desperately ill.

On mirrors in her home, he would scrawl messages in white marker. One read: ‘Ben makes you whole, Give the whole to him.’

Another stated: ‘All that you give him will be returned tenfold.’

Convinced by his act, Ms Moore-Martin changed her will in Field’s favour at the end of 2016.

In February 2017 she suffered a seizure and ended up in hospital.

It remains unclear what caused the decline, but she did tell friends days earlier that Field had given her ‘some powder’ which helped her sleep.

Field was however cleared of attempting to kill her.

Once his victim was in hospital, Field was unable to get access to her and the pensioner’s niece, Anne-Marie Blake, became suspicious.

As police began an investigation, Ms Blake changed her aunt’s will to write Field out.

In March 2017, Field was arrested for the first time, but two months later, Ms Moore-Martin died for a massive stroke.

Her niece said in evidence to the jury at Field’s trial: ‘She was tortured by it and found it very difficult to get her head around the betrayal.

‘She said to me, “I am such an intelligent woman. How could I let this happen to myself?”

At his trial, former Stowe School secretary, Ms Zettl, then 101, became the oldest witness in a British murder case.

Field’s co-accused, Martyn Smith, who was cleared of involvement in the deaths of both Mr Farquhar and Ms Moore-Martin, had lived as a lodger with Ms Zettl.

In January 2022, Field began a second bid to have his conviction overturned. The Court of Appeal dismissed a previous challenge in 2021.

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