The Thirteenth Tale

Monday 30 December

9.30pm-11.00pm

BBC TWO

Biographer Margaret Lea (Olivia Colman) is summoned to the home of formidable best-selling novelist Vida Winter (Vanessa Redgrave) who has handpicked Margaret to write her biography.

Margaret’s approach to a remote house through the bleak moors sets the tone for a tense first meeting with the ailing Vida who demands to know “What exactly makes you hesitate?” when Margaret appears reticent to take on the job of recounting Vida’s life story.

Margaret becomes powerless to refuse when a fascination with Vida’s untold story takes hold and the powerful theme of twins hits a nerve. The two women go on an extraordinary journey together back through the decades and Vida confides, for the first time, the secrets of a dark and unsettling childhood at Angelfield house, her ancestral home.

Margaret soon becomes absorbed in Vida’s compelling story, but each step takes her closer to the trauma of her own childhood, which she has spent her life running from. The tragedy she suffered as a young girl refuses to be ignored any longer and Margaret must face her ghosts.

Meanwhile, Vida’s disclosure of disturbing events that took place decades ago at Angelfield continues to both transfix and trouble Margaret, who wonders if she has unwittingly been privy to a dark confession. Time is short as Vida’s health deteriorates and Margaret, desperate to hear the end of the story, urgently hunts for answers, so that she can at long last tell The Thirteenth Tale.

Adapted by Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Atonement, Dangerous Liaisons), directed by James Kent (Inside Men, The White Queen) and produced by David Heyman (Harry Potter, Gravity) and Norma Heyman (Mrs Henderson Presents, Dangerous Liaisons).

Robert Pugh plays John the Dig, Janet Amsden plays The Missus, Emily Beecham plays Isabelle Angelfield, Michael Jibson plays Charlie Angelfield, Madeleine Power plays young Emmeline/Adeline, Antonia Clarke plays teenage Emmeline, Sophie Turner plays teenage Vida /Adeline, Lizzie Hopley plays Theodora Mawsley, Tom Goodman-Hill plays Dr Mawsley, Steven Mackintosh plays Doctor Clifton, Alexandra Roach plays Hester Barrow, Adam Long plays Ambrose Proctor, Martin Wimbush plays Mr Clacy, Isabel Barlow plays young Margaret, Alice Barlow plays Moira and Gordon Winter plays Aurelius Love.

BR2