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Written by: Jimmy McGovern

Produced by: Paul Abbott

Directed by: Jean Stewart

Originally Screened: 21/11/94 (Part 1), 28/11/94 (Part 2), 05/12/94 (Part 3)


"Show me a man & I will show you a potential killer, a potential rapist "- Fitz   


Floyd Malcolm is a young black man employed as a minicab driver while collecting social welfare. He is also a serial rapist. He cannot make love to his girlfriend because his legs are scarred after sitting in a bath of bleach when he was a boy which makes him very self conscious. His latest victim (Catherine) is the wife of a fellow taxi driver who inadvertently insulted Floyd by telling a racist joke at work. Floyd wears a mask during the rape and afterwards combs his victim’s pubic hair and washes her in the swimming pool of the gymnasium where she works. Fitz tells the police that the man they are looking for has raped before and has been caught. This is why he combs the hair of his victims and washes them after the rapes because he has learned the hard way to destroy all the DNA evidence he can. After picking up all known local rapists (including Floyd), they have no solid leads. One middle-aged man named James Molloy catches Beck’s attention but Fitz proves that Molloy is innocent by pushing him into a swimming pool where he nearly drowns: Since Molloy could not swim it was not possible that he could be the man they were looking for.


When Fitz and the police officers are later drinking in the pub, the men begin telling jokes about rape victims they have encountered. Penhaligon (in a brilliant piece of acting by the always excellent Geraldine Somerville) tries to make herself laugh with the lads but her face shows how uncomfortable she is with this type of humour. Beck begins to taunt Penhaligon by saying that women must allow themselves to be raped because “you cannot thread a moving needle”. He then asks Penhaligon repeatedly whether she fantasises about rape. She finally admits that she sometimes does. In an attempt to jog people’s memory, the police organise a reconstruction of one of Floyd’s previous rapes (which he attends unbeknownst to the police). Floyd drives his previous victim (Helen) to the reconstruction and his voice brings back memories of her ordeal.  


To compensate for the feelings of emasculation caused by his wife’s rape, Catherine’s husband beats up Molloy and puts him in a coma. The husband is arrested and forced to confess by Fitz. Penhaligon brings Helen home after the reconstruction and is raped on the stairwell outside Helen’s block of flats. As one would expect, Penhaligon is badly shaken by her ordeal and retreats into a shell of self-absorption that alienates her from everyone around her (including Fitz). Fitz goes on a radio chat show to discuss the case and Floyd rings in. He asks Fitz whether the rapist should kill his victims in the future so as to avoid being caught. Floyd is cut off before Fitz can answer but the call bothers him for the rest of the programme. Fitz concludes the broadcast by saying that the potential for rape and murder lies in every man although most men generally repress the urge. (This power of identification with murderers and rapists is probably the most disturbing side of Fitz’s character: One feels that the violent urges that drive the people he pursues are also a part of psyche. Indeed, the individuals that Fitz stalks could conceivably argue that the one thing that distinguishes Fitz from them is their honesty).


As the result of a former victim coming forward, Fitz realises that the man they are looking for is black and tells Wise this but he is unconvinced because Penhaligon had said that her rapist was white and the assumption was that she was raped by the same man that had raped the other women. Floyd proceeds to carry out Fitz’s “advice” by killing the wife of a social welfare officer who had found out about Floyd fraudulently collecting benefits. The social welfare officer remembers Floyd threatening him which leads to Floyd’s arrest. While interviewing Floyd’s mother, Fitz learns that as a child Floyd had been so uncomfortable in his black skin that he had sat in a bath of bleach to try and make himself white (the same colour as his mother). Penhaligon realizes that Floyd did not rape her and, when she smells the same aftershave off Beck as she did on her attacker, she reports him to Wise. He tells her that such a charge will ruin her career and advises her to withdraw it. In the male dominated world of the police force, Penhaligon would never be trusted again if she made such an allegation against another officer.


Judith comes home to Fitz and announces that she is pregnant. Penhaligon discovers this when she comes to collect Fitz to interview Floyd. The news serves to drive a further wedge between herself and Fitz. In an attempt to assert some kind of power over Fitz, Penhaligon begins to drive erratically which panics him. Beck is next seen at Bilborough’s baby’s christening and we learn that he is the godfather of little Ryan. After the ceremony, Beck is talking to Catriona and clearly wants to tell her that he is wracked with guilt over Bilborough’s death because he had let the killer go. During the interview with Floyd, Fitz establishes that the rapes that Floyd committed were carried out as revenge on white men. The woman being raped was largely irrelevant and only served as a means of getting at the man who Floyd wished to hurt. As Fitz observed, Floyd was “screwing the other guy” as opposed to the female whose body was being violated. This stems from Floyd’s childhood when he despised the colour of his own skin and now resents white society for making him feel so hateful towards his own body. Fitz assures Floyd that he knows what drove Floyd to kill and to rape because: “I understand killers”.


When Fitz is on the brink of getting a confession out of Floyd, his lawyer arrives and tells him that he is free to go. Floyd is put under police surveillance but they lose him and he goes to Fitz’s house, intending to rape and kill Judith as retribution for the vulnerability that Fitz made him feel during the interrogation. Fitz and the police arrive just in time and Floyd is arrested. Meanwhile, Penahaligon is waiting for Beck in his house. She surprises him and forces him to the ground by pointing a gun at him. In a moment of empowerment, she places her gun in his mouth in an act of simulated oral sex. By doing so, she gains a kind of revenge over him by making him feel what it is like to have your body forcibly penetrated against your will. Back at Fitz’s house, he receives a call from Penhaligon. She tells him that she need to talk to him and this is where the story ends. The audience is left unsure whether Beck has been killed or not…


Episode Guide written by Graham Price

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