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TRUE ROMANCE (SERIES 3)

 

 

Written by: Paul Abbott

Produced by: Hilary Bevan Jones

Directed by: Tim Fywell

Originally Screened: 20/11/95 (Part 1), 27/11/95 (Part 2)

 

"The man who came to dinner is not my type at all. They are all far too cocky for my liking" - Janice

 

Janice is a young lab technician at Manchester University who has developed an obsession with Fitz and is writing him love letters. At her sister’s wedding, Janice tells the groom something that prevents him from being able to make love to his wife on their wedding night. Janice attends one of Fitz’s lectures where he advises the writer of the love letter (whom he believes to be a psychology student) to try and find love with anyone who is not a student and to forget about him. After the lecture, Janice tries to speak to Fitz but is rudely ignored by him. Later that night, Janice electrocutes a young psychology student named Stephen Lowry and dumps his body on a railway line. She leaves a copy of a Dusty Springfield’s song ‘I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten’ with the body. Shortly after the murder, Fitz receives another letter and realizes that his admirer is the killer. Because Janice wrote that the man whom she had killed had brought her chocolates, Fitz decides that it must be a mature student because no young student would be courted with chocolates. Because the killer talks about the lecture he had recently given in Manchester University, Fitz concludes that they can narrow their list of suspects to students of that University.  

 

Penhaligon, coldly and callously, tells Stephen’s girlfriend that he had slept with someone else. This reveals the true damage that has been done by Beck raping her: She has lost some of the kindness and compassion that was such an integral part of her character. (Beck would probably have approved of this renouncing of compassion since he believed that “compassion only gets you killed”). As would be expected, Fitz’s personal life is still in tatters: His son Mark got his girlfriend pregnant but she lost the baby, Judith is seriously thinking about starting an affair with Danny and DCI Wise has developed a personal grudge against him because he was counselling Mrs. Wise which (albeit unintentionally) lead to her deciding to separate from Wise. When Fitz tries to renew his relationship with Penhaligon, she tells him that she does not love him. This revelation leaves Fitz crying on the shoulder of fellow psychologist Irene Jackson.

 

Soon after the first murder, Janice kills another young, bright and promiscuous student named John Brannigan. She is observed trying to leave the area where she dumped Brannigan’s body by a man walking his dog and he is run over by her van. Because of the killer’s interest in Fitz, Penhaligon openly questions whether he should remain on the case as he seems to be driving the killer to continue murdering more people. Janice’s next potential victim is eventually spared because he showed enough consideration to offer to spend the night with her. Fitz decides to remove himself from the investigation and have Irene replace him. This drives Janice into a fury and she rings him up during one of his radio shows demanding that he be put back on the case. She has placed a voice box on the phone so she cannot be identified. Fitz tells her that no one is listening to her anymore. Janice then targets Mark Fitzgerald as her next victim: As with the others, Janice lures him back to her flat and ties him to her bed. She then gives herself up to the police so she can finally have her time alone with Fitz. She is arrested in her flat but Mark cannot be found anywhere. 

 

Fitz’s interrogation of Janice is probably the most traumatic encounter with a killer he has ever had to endure because the pleasure he can usually derive from verbally attacking a suspect is not possible on this occasion. It is Fitz who is vulnerable as Janice begins to taunt him about the state of his marriage. He begs her to release his son and tells her that Mark is not like her other victims in that he is not emotionally secure, very intelligent or even happy. Therefore, she should not feel resentment over his bright future. It is this envy of personal and professional success that drove her to kill the other young men. While Fitz is interrogating Janice, Penhaligon tells Judith that she has handed in her resignation and will leave Anson road in November (a revelation that Penhaligon doubts Judith will derive any real comfort from). This is the last time that Penhaligon will appear in the series.

 

When Janice’s sister, Nena, is interviewed by Fitz, she inadvertently reveals that her father had sexually abused his children. When Fitz confronts Janice about this abuse, he realizes that she was the only one of her father’s three daughters who was not abused. This made her feel shut out of the family when she was growing up. The reason that the Dusty Springfield song meant so much to her was because she had once danced with her father to that tune: Probably the only memory she had of her father showing her any real attention. In return for telling her why her father never abused her, Janice tells Fitz that Mark is in the flat next door to hers. The police arrive just in time to stop Mark being electrocuted. Fitz keeps his promise and enlightens Janice about why her father rejected her: She was too strong willed and her father knew that she would have resisted him and told someone what he had tried to do. Cruelly, Janice had to pay the price for being the strongest member of the family.

 

The relationship between Janice and Fitz has now come to an end because Fitz showed that he understand Janice which was all she was looking for. Empathy as opposed to love was what she wished to gain from writing to Fitz. Danny and Judith were meant to go for a meal on the night that Mark was kidnapped. He waited for her at a restaurant and eventually went on to a casino. He loses all his money and, in a voice of tragic resignation, tells the croupier that: “I just wanted to know what it felt like to be him [Fitz]”. This probably refers to his being in a casino and why he pursued Judith. Despite the outward contempt Danny showed for his brother, he actually envied Fitz and wanted to be like him. Although Fitz and Judith were united by their anxiety over their son’s safety, the last scene of this story shows that they are still uncertain about whether their marriage will survive and Fitz is left alone to smoke his cigarette. His lot in life seems to be that of the perpetually isolated outsider.

 

Episode Guide written by Graham Price

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