The Sixth Commandment — cast, plot and all about the true-crime drama

The Sixth Commandment on BBC1 stars Timothy Spall and Anne Reid.
The Sixth Commandment on BBC1 stars Timothy Spall and Anne Reid. (Image credit: Getty)

The Sixth Commandment dramatizes the real-life murder of churchwarden Peter Farquhar (Timothy Spall) and the death of his neighbour Ann Moore-Martin (Last Tango in Halifax star Anne Reid). 

Both were deeply religious but fell in love with charismatic student Ben Field (Normal People star Éanna Hardwicke), who drugged and murdered Peter and preyed on Ann for her cash. 

The drama explores how both victims were manipulated by Field and captures the extreme gaslighting he carried out on them both, as well as the police investigation into his crimes and the subsequent high-profile trial. Penned by Sarah Phelps, writer of A Very British Scandal, it also celebrates Peter and Ann’s lives, showing them as cherished mentors, much-loved relatives and treasured friends. 

“When I received Sarah’s brilliant scripts, I knew this was an essential story to tell,” says Timothy Spall. “I am honoured to be playing the remarkable Peter Farquhar and hope I do him justice, which is the very least he deserves.”

So here's everything you need to know about The Sixth Commandment on BBC1...

The Sixth Commandment release date 

The four-part true crime drama The Sixth Commandment will premiere on BBC1. Filming has only just begun in Bristol and Bath, so there’s no release date yet, but we’d guess that it won’t be on our screens until the end of 2022 at the earliest. 

The Sixth Commandment plot

The Sixth Commandment tells the story of 69-year-old churchwarden Peter Farquhar from Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, who bonded with 30-year-old student Ben Field over their shared love of books. Soon Field duped Peter into a fake relationship and persuaded him to change his will, making him the main beneficiary, before drugging him with a cocktail of pills and spiking his whisky. He convinced Peter that he was losing his mind, leaving him feeling increasingly scared and isolated. Peter died in 2015 and Field then began a sexual relationship with Peter’s 86-year-old neighbour, devout Christian, Ann. She died of natural causes in May 2017 and Field was accused of plotting to kill her but was found not guilty. Field was jailed for a minimum of 36 years for Peter’s murder in 2019. 

“I wouldn’t have been able to write this without the help, support and insights of Peter and Ann’s families,” says writer Sally Phelps. “I’m so appreciative of the trust they placed in me to tell the stories of their loved ones.”

The Sixth Commandment cast — Timothy Spall as Peter Farquhar.

Timothy Spall plays mild-mannered churchwarden Peter in The Sixth Commandment. Back in the 1980s, Timothy won our hearts as Barry in Auf Wiedersehen Pet and has gone on to star in numerous hit TV shows such as The Street, The Syndicate, The Enfield Haunting and Hatton Garden. His film credits are equally impressive and he’s had major roles in the Harry Potter films, Enchanted, A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Damned United, The Last Samurai and Pierrepoint.  

Timothy Spall

Timothy Spall plays murder victim Peter Farquhar. (Image credit: Getty)

Anne Reid on playing Ann Moore-Martin 

Anne plays the trusting pensioner Ann Moore-Martin who also fell for Field’s deception. She played Celia in Last Tango in Halifax and starred as Queenie in Hold The Sunset, as well as Lady Denham in Sanditon. She’s also starred as Valerie Barlow in Coronation Street until 1973, Our Zoo, Upstairs Downstairs, The Jury, Years and Years, Prisoners Wives, Dinnerladies, Peak Practice and Playing the Field

“I found the story of the Sixth Commandment extremely disturbing and I feel a great sense of responsibility in portraying this good, kind, trusting woman, Ann, who was so cruelly deceived,” says Anne. 

Derek Jacobi and Ann Reid as Alan and Celia in Last Tango In Halfax.

Ann Reid with Derek Jacobi as Celia and Alan in Last Tango In Halfax. (Image credit: BBC)

Éanna Hardwicke on playing murderer Ben Field

Éanna Hardwicke plays conman and murderer Ben Field in The Sixth Commandment. He starred as Rob in the BBC's TV smash hit drama Normal People and is Sebastian in Netflix fantasy series Fate: The Winx Saga. He’s also been in Irish murder drama Smother and will appear in the upcoming film The Sparrow

“It is a privilege to join the brilliant cast and creative team behind The Sixth Commandment,” Éanna says. “Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin nourished the lives of many in their time and Sarah's writing beautifully draws out the richness of their lives and the positive impact they had while exploring the callousness and cruelty brought into their home by someone they trusted. I'm mindful and appreciative of the confidence of Peter's and Ann's families in trusting us with their stories.”

Who else is starring? 

The Sixth Commandment also stars Sheila Hancock (Unforgotten, A Discovery of Witches, Great Canal Journeys), Ben Bailey Smith (The Split, Andor), Annabel Scholey (The Split, The Salisbury Poisonings), Conor MacNeill (Industry), Adrian Rawlins (Baptiste, Chernobyl) and Amanda Root (Summerland, Unforgotten).

Is there a trailer for The Sixth Commandment?

No, not yet as the show is still very much in production but keep checking this page and we’ll post it on here if one becomes available. 

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.