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Written by: Jimmy McGovern

Produced by: Hilary Bevan Jones

Directed by: Roy Battersby

Originally Screened: 22/10/95 (Part 1), 23/10/95 (Part 2), 29/10/95 (Part 3)


"To be the first the very first. Best of all to be the first and last" - Fitz


It has been four months since the events of ‘Men Should Weep’. Fitz is going to see Beck in a mental hospital where he has been recovering from “emotional problems”. Fitz tries to get Beck to admit that he raped Penhaligon but Beck continues to deny his involvement in her assault. All he will say is that he did not need to rape her because: “I screwed her. I got sick of screwing her”. When Beck tells Fitz to give Penhaligon his love, Fitz head butts him and leaves. Fitz goes to see Penhaligon to tell her that he had no luck in persuading Beck to confess. Penhaligon’s first appearance in this season highlights the effect that the rape has had on her. The first part of her that we see is her hand as she unlocks the various bolts on her front door (demonstrating how nervous she has been following her attack). When we see her face it is considerably colder and harder than it was when she was going out with Fitz. Her hair is also tied back which makes her less overtly attractive. (Geraldine Somerville has done an exceptional job of insinuating the various changes that Penhaligon has gone through throughout the Cracker series through the use of mainly non-spoken acting).


Fitz gingerly asks Penhaligon if she and Beck have ever slept together. She refuses to dignify the question with an answer and slams the door in his face. When Fitz gets home, more trauma awaits him as his brother Danny is there and tells Fitz that there mother is dead. Meanwhile, David Harvey, a married father, picks up prostitute Jean McIlvanney and goes back to her house. Before having sex with Jean, David makes her sing “How much is that Doggy in the Window” by Shirley Temple. We later learn that David is a devout Catholic and is turned on by innocence and virginity. (This Cracker story is one of several that associates Catholicism with violence. Jimmy McGovern was raised as a devout Catholic which explains the theme of Catholicism that runs through all the stories that he wrote for Cracker). David does not have the money to pay Jean because his wife has taken it out of his wallet. He goes back to his house, leaves Jean in the car and goes in to see if his wife has any of the money left. He runs back out again when he sees Jean coming towards the door. When he gets her back into the car he flies into a rage because she was about to enter his home, he stops the car and proceeds to beat her to death with a chisel. After killing her, he inserts the chisel between her legs. In return for David telling his wife everything and agreeing to look after Jean’s children, his brother Michael (who is a priest) agrees to help him avoid detection. Eye witness evidence eventually lead the police to David who is arrested and picked out of a line-up by one of Jean’s friends. Fitz begins to interrogate him but David refuses to admit that he is guilty of murder.


When another prostitute is murdered and forensic evidence suggests that it was the same person who killed Jean McIlvanney, the police begin to have doubts about whether they have the right man in custody. Fitz begins to suspect David’s brother of trying to get David out of prison by killing women in the same way. Michael is doing Fitz’s mother’s funeral which gives him the opportunity to interrogate Michael. Beck has returned to work and Penhaligon attempts to make him confess to raping her by recoding one of their conversations. He sees threw this plan however and throws the tape recorder away. Fitz gives an extremely beautiful and emotional talk at his mother’s funeral. During the wake, Danny and Fitz reach a tearful (albeit temporary) reconciliation. While driving back from the service, Judith goes into labour and is rushed to hospital. Coincidently, Fitz is in the same hospital because he drunkenly provoked someone into hitting him with a mobile phone. During the labour, Fitz promises Judith that he will never gamble again.


Another prostitute is murdered while David is in prison and added pressure is put on Wise to release him. Fitz tries again to force a confession out of David by reminding him what it would be like to sleep with someone who you regard as being a virgin (which is what David had convinced himself that Jean was) and then slaughter her: thus being the first and last man to have sex with that woman. David is on the verge of confessing but pulls back at the last minute. Penhaligon and another female officer dress up as prostitutes to try and get information from the street girls and their clients. Fitz meets Beck in a pub to tries again to make him admit that he raped Penhaligon. Beck begins to hyperventilate and under the extreme emotional stress blurts out a confession of guilt. A combination of misogyny and the excitement of having power over another had driven Beck to rape Penhaligon. Because Fitz had sworn not to tell anyone else about Beck’s confession, he is unable to confide this information to Penhaligon.


Fitz eventually works out that David’s wife Maggie is the other killer and the police arrest her just before she killed another prostitute. Maggie tells the police and Fitz that she had had an abortion year ago because there was not enough money to provide for a fifth child. When she found out that “filthy pox ridden prostitutes” had been taking the money that could have gone to her dead baby, she was so enraged that she began murdering them, getting her husband out of prison was just an ancillary benefit. Unfortunately for Wise and his colleagues, Maggie confesses to the murder of Jean McIlvanney as well so David has to be released. In Maggie’s view, one of them has to look after the children and it could not be her so since she was caught in the act. By confessing, at least her children would have one parent. Beck, driven by anger and guilt, decides that he must dispense justice upon himself and David Harvey. He kidnaps David and contacts Wise to tell him that David Harvey and he are going to jump off the top of the Ramada hotel.(His last words to Wise are: “You are not fit to lick Bilborough’s boots never mind fill them, you scruffy scouse bastard”). Fitz and Penhaligon arrive at the top of the hotel just in time for Beck to make a sincere apology to Penhaligon. He then jumps off the roof and takes David Harvey with him. The story ends with Penhaligon lying in Fitz’s arms and sobbing uncontrollably in a moment of emotional release that Beck’s confession has granted her.


Episode Guide written by Graham Price


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The Unofficial Guide To Cracker 1999-2006