Belfast Telegraph

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The Secret makes for uncomfortable television for viewers

Published 13/05/2016

James Nesbitt as Colin Howell and Genevieve O’Reilly as Hazel Stewart committing the murders
James Nesbitt as Colin Howell and Genevieve O’Reilly as Hazel Stewart committing the murders

Viewers were left shocked after The Secret showed how the relationship of Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart unravelled after the murders of their respective spouses.

The reaction to the third episode of the ITV hit crime drama on social media was one of revulsion to the 'freaky' manipulation of  Jimmy Nesbitt's character dentist Colin Howell of his mistress.

The level of nudity and sex on the show - amidst Howell's regular biblical quotations and references to his church - made for uncomfortable yet compulsive viewing for thousands of viewers throughout the UK.

Belfast playwright and author Leesa Harker wrote on Twitter: 'Ok. My eyes are bleeding. #TheSecret'.

One woman tweeted: '#TheSecret is seriously messed up!!! And to think this really happened. #disturbing' while another wrote '#TheSecret is the definition of uncomfortable viewing.'

Another woman expressed her shock and wrote: '#So shocked at #thesecret tonight, so hard to believe that it's a true story'.

The programme depicts in chilling details the 1991 murders of policeman Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell, the spouses of Ballymoney dentist Colin Howell and his lover Hazel Stewart.

However, there was sympathy expressed by some viewers to the Stewart character due to the strange behaviour of her lover.

Last week the programme showed the disturbing and callous murders of police officer Trevor Buchanan and nurse Lesley Howell in May, 1991.

Tonight's episode showed how Howell would drug his mistress before having sex, how he confessed to his second wife that he had killed his first wife Lesley.

The series has been condemned by the daughter of Howell, Lauren Bradford, who said society's morbid fascination with murder can lead to media exploitation that traumatises victims for a second time.

Her complaint has led ITV to unprecedented scrutiny and even an intervention by the Prime Minister

The programme is based on a book 'Let This Be Our Secret' about the murders and cover-up by journalist Deric Henderson.

The final episode will be shown on ITV at 9pm next Thursday.

Further reading:

Distressed daughter of killer dentist Colin Howell to meet culture chief over TV drama The Secret  

The Secret: David Cameron to hold meeting to discuss impact of TV drama on families of victims  

The Secret a ratings winner but Howell and Stewart victims' families distraught  

'Jimmy Nesbitt's a superb creep... roll on next week' - Twitter reacts to first installment of Howell and Stewart drama The Secret  

 

 

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