Whether this is an appropriate topic for primetime viewing is tackled in this week's issue of the Radio Times. It features interviews with the writer of the screenplay, Neil McKay together with its lead actor, Dominic West who plays his namesake. Both men sought to justify their involvement by arguing that their work might save lives by helping alert people to similarly predatory people. The actor referred to a newspaper article written by one of West's daughters that appeared in the Guardian newspaper in the late 1990s: "she ended it by saying the worse thing is that people forget this case and don't discuss it. And that was really my [Dominic West's] moral justification for doing the part" (cited in Midgley 2011: 12).
For his part, Neil McKay, argued that crimes such as those committed by the Wests "shouldn't be swept under the carpet, and left unexamined" (cited in Midgley 2011: 12). There is an irony here given that this is just what has happened at the house where the murders, rapes and abuses took place: it is hidden under a carpet of concrete.
Yet the demolition of the house has not deterred curious tourists, including the Radio Times's own critic, Alison Graham. Her comments in this regard are revealing: "Curiosity and outrage took me to 25 Cromwell Street after it was demolished. I'm not particularly proud, but it was the same compulsion that led me to Ground Zero on a trip to New York... I won't make any cheap, flowery claims that I could feel the terrible silence or hear the restless cries of the dead. I didn't. It's now a pathway to the city centre. Nothing more" (cited in Midgley 2011: 13).
This raises some important questions:
- Was the "silence" also all-consuming at Ground Zero - or could the "restless cries of the dead" be heard there? Why should there be a difference?
- Is it right to allow 25 Cromwell Street to be "nothing more" than a shortcut - a perverse "path of desire" - to Gloucester city centre?
- Is there really no plaque remembering the victims? If so, is this forgetting not also a sort of additional death? A death of remembrance?
Midgley, Neil (2011) "Breaking the last taboo", Radio Times, 03-09/09, pp. 10-13