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The Big Crunch (Series 2)



Written by: Ted Whitehead

Produced by: Paul Abbott

Directed by: Julian Jarrold

Originally Screened: 31/10/94 (Part 1), 07/11/94 (Part 2), 14/11/94 (Part 3)


"Your religion is a sham. An act of theatre for your dreams of power" - Fitz


Kenneth Trant is a school master and lay preacher who is secretly having an affair with one of his students, Joanne Barnes, who also is a member the non-established religious sect that he leads. He is secretly photographed in the woods having sex with Joanne by his sister in law, Norma, who is friends with his wife Virginia. Fitz’s domestic life is still in ruins as Judith has put their house on the market and is intent on dividing up all the family’s assets (including custody of the children: She will get Katie and he will get Mark). When Judith comes to the house with an estate agent, Fitz runs both of them out of the house and accidently breaks Judith’s car window by throwing a For Sale sign through it.


When Virginia is shown the lurid pictures of her husband and Joanne by Norma, they kidnap Joanne and keep her in the basement of Kenneth’s house until he comes home with his brother from helping their mother move house. When it emerges that Joanne is pregnant, Kenneth is absolved of all blame by his family and Joanne is perceived as being a whore-like figure who had led him astray. They strip her, draw religious marking on her body, and give her gin and prescription drugs. Dean, a less than intelligent member of their religious group and employee of Kenneth’s brother Michael, is instructed to dump a box containing Joanne’s body in the shredding machine at Michael’s factory. Dean has for a long time had a crush on Joanne and when he opens the box and finds her inside, he lets her go. Joanne, still suffering from the effects of the drugs she was given, leaves the factory in a confused and frightened state. 


When Joanne is picked up by the police, Fitz is sent to interview her in hospital. Joanne will only speak through prayer and Fitz begins to try and discover who had given her the drugs and drew the markings on her body. When Fitz discovers her involvement in the sect, he attempts to interview its members (including a school friend of Joanne’s who has also been having an affair with Kenneth). However, because they have been told by Kenneth not to speak to the police, none of them will give Fitz any information about Joanne or how she came to be attacked. Meanwhile, Joanne dies in hospital as a result of her physical and psychological ordeal. With some help from Mark, Fitz manages to decipher the markings on Joanne’s body as referring to the instant before the world was created (The Big Bang) when there was only chaos in the universe. Fitz deduces that these drawings were done by someone who “saw sex in death and vice versa and eventually sought to combine the two in one moment of perfection”.


When similar drawings are found in Dean’s flat, he is arrested by Beck who forces him to admit that he killed Joanne. Although Fitz makes Dean say that this is untrue, he hangs himself in his jail cell because of the guilt he feels about his (very minor) role in Joanne’s death. While all this is going on, Fitz has finally begun to have an affair with Penhaligon and he even goes so far as to tell her that he is in love with her. Although Mark is disgusted that this relationship is being conducted in the house that he lives in, Fitz refuses to show any remorse or give any indication that he will stop seeing Penhaligon.


With his new lover at his side, Fitz begins to aggressively interview all the members of Trant’s family. Despite the considerable psychological pressure that Fitz exerts, none of the Trants will implicate Kenneth. As a last resort, Fitz turns up at the church where Trant is holding a service. Fitz taunts Kenneth by saying that the equations that Kenneth drew on Joanne’s body indicate that Kenneth has no belief in god and that power is all he is interested in. Fitz says that Joanne had to be murdered because she threatened the godlike image that Kenneth had created for himself.

Michael Trant, finally consumed by remorse, begins handing out pictures of Kenneth and Joanne to the congregation. Disgusted, all the members of Kenneth’s church turn their back on him and the entire Trant family are taken to prison. Now victorious, Fitz and Penhaligon drive away together.


Episode Guide written by Graham Price

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