Episode 10: Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1980)

This week Never Repeats takes a look at Beyond Reasonable Doubt, a dramatisation of the police investigation into the infamous Crewe murders, and the subsequent trial of Arthur Allan Thomas. We also delve into David Yallop’s book about the murders (which formed the basis for his screenplay), and the way the real-life case developed as the film was in production.

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Director: John Laing
Producer: John Barnett
Screenplay: David Yallop; adapted from his book of the same name
Director of Photography: Alun Bollinger
Editor: Michael Horton

Inspector Bruce Hutton…David Hemmings
Arthur Allan Thomas…John Hargreaves
Detective John Hughes…Tony Barry
Len Demler…Martyn Sanderson
David Morris…Grant Tilly
Vivien Thomas…Diana Rowan
Kevin Ryan…Ian Watkin


  • Beyond Reasonable Doubt is easy to find on DVD. If you live in New Zealand it may be available to rent at your local video store (such as Aro Video), and can be purchased directly from South Pacific Pictures, who produced the DVD release.
  • There are also links to other retailers available at the reliable NZ Videos, as well as links to a wealth of other material related to the film. The reviews linked here were particularly useful for our research on this episode.
  • If you want to take a behind-the-scenes look at the film, the episode of Kaleidoscope produced for TVNZ at the time of production has lots of interesting interviews and production footage. It’s available to watch at NZ On Screen.
  • NZ On Screen also has a great career-spanning interview with John Laing. It can be watched either at the NZ On Screen website, or on YouTube.
  • Our surprise at the fact that David Yallop had adapted his own book exposes a rather glaring hole in our research. He had, in fact, been a prolific television writer since the mid-’60s. For some reason we got it into our heads that he was exclusively a journalist and non-fiction author, and didn’t notice all the scripts that he had written for British TV shows such as Crown Court and Minder.
  • One of the pertinent early scripts written by Yallop was a 1972 BBC TV drama titled To Encourage the Others, about the trial and execution of Derek Bentley. It, like Beyond Reasonable Doubt, was based on a book of the same name Yallop had written the previous year. Like Beyond Reasonable Doubt, it also led to a Government pardon of its subject. Unlike Beyond Reasonable Doubt, it has been almost impossible to view ever since it was first broadcast, which may account for the relative dearth of material about it. It was finally given a home video release by the BFI earlier this year in a boxset dedicated to its director, the great Alan Clarke.
  • To Encourage the Others is also interesting because it answers a question we bought up during this episode. We were initially confused by the intrusion of a documentary voice-over near the end of Beyond Reasonable Doubt, and ascribed it to a post-production fix intended to clear up elements of the story. However, the exact same dramatic device occurs in a similar scene during To Encourage the Others – which suggests that it was actually part of David Yallop’s original screenplay.

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