There was something defiantly old-school about Real Crime: Yvonne Fletcher (ITV1): the unnecessary reconstruction featuring an Yvonne Fletcher lookalike who didn't look anything like Yvonne Fletcher; the newsreel footage of the British ambassador's wife singing the national anthem at Tripoli airport; Leon Brittan looking and sounding every bit as smarmy now as he did when he was home secretary in 1984.
As a recreation of a time when Libya was considered a major threat, Real Crime worked well. But it wasn't a period pastiche; it was a documentary about the shooting of Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy while policing an anti-Gaddafi demonstration. And here it rather came apart, not so much in the retelling of the events leading up to her death and its aftermath, as in presenter Mark Austin's insistence that it was telling us something new.
According to Austin, the existence of a secret document that says two Libyan embassy workers, Muhammad Matuq and Abdulgader Baghdadi, could be prosecuted for conspiracy to murder is a major new development. Not to the rest of us, it isn't. Within days of the subsequent embassy siege ending with all Libyan personnel being granted safe passage back to Tripoli, it was an open secret that Matuq and Baghdadi were the most likely suspects. (...)
I can understand the frustration of Fletcher's family and friends, given that her alleged killers now have top jobs in the Libyan government; but including personal pieces to camera from former colleagues ("She has been denied justice") and an SAS man ("We should have gone in there and killed the lot of them") is neither enlightening nor helpful. If the programme really wanted to explain the reasons for the absence of a trial, it could have gone a great deal deeper into the complex diplomatic and trade links between Libya and the UK; and to mention the Lockerbie bombing without adding that there are strong doubts about Libya and Megrahi's involvement was a serious miss. Still, I guess that doesn't count as Real Crime.
[The above are excerpts from a TV review by John Crace on The Guardian website.
A related article by Ian Black, the paper's Middle East editor, can be read here.]