James Nesbitt has been cast in a three part ITV drama in which he will play Colin Howell, a dentist who murdered his wife and lover’s husband. The drama, entitled The Secret, will also star Genevieve O’Reilly as Howell’s lover Hazel Buchanan.

James NesbittJames Nesbitt at Chiltern Firehouse, London in July 2015.

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The Secret is based on a true story. After falling in love and beginning an affair, Howell and Buchanan hatched an elaborate plot to kill their spouses. Howell murdered his wife and Buchanan’s husband in 1991. The bodies of Leslie Howell and Trevor Buchanan were found in a car filled with carbon monoxide fumes in the coastal village of Castlerock in Northern Ireland. Initially, as Howell and Buchanan had carefully staged their spouses’ deaths, the authorities believed the two victims had made a suicide pact.

In 2010, Howell confessed that he had murdered both his wife and Buchanan’s husband. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for double murder. Hazel Buchanan was also found guilty of murder in 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment. 

The series has been written by Stuart Urban, the writer of the BAFTA award winning An Ungentlemanly Act (1993). It is being directed by Nick Murphy, the television and film director best known for his work on Prey, The Awakening and Dracula

Johnathon Curling, The Government Inspector producer, will produce the series. 

The series has been inspired by a book written by journalist Deric Henderson, who covered the case throughout his lengthy career as Editor of the Ireland Press Association.

“It’s an extraordinary story, certainly the most remarkable I’ve ever covered in a long career,” Henderson said of the Howell-Buchanan case.

ITV announced the news on Thursday (15th October).

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