Wartime setting hid a surprise change of pace
Never judge a book by its cover... and never judge a TV programme by its title.
I assumed that The Bletchley Circle would be a fairly twee period piece about the ladies of Bletchley Park – the codebreakers who helped develop the Enigma machine and a vital tool in the Second World War.
And so it began as we met four women working at Bletchley together. One of them, Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin) realises that there's something not quite right about intercepted messages concerning a German officer.
Lucy (Sophie Rundle), who has a phenomenal memory, can remember previous mentions of the man's name. Egged on by Millie (Rachael Stirling), Susan takes her concerns to team leader Jean (Julie Graham).
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The theory was right and their work has given British Forces vital information about an immediate German threat. So far, so Foyle's War.
But the action then moves forward nine years and the women are leading very different lives.
Susan is married with two children. Millie is working as a waitress. Lucy is trapped in an unhappy marriage and a life of drudgery and Jean is a spinsterish librarian.
But Susan's analytical mind cannot be stilled and she finds herself obsessing about the work of a serial killer.
There are patterns to be found in the killings of women and she thinks she can pinpoint the location of another victim.
Her bemused husband takes her to see a friend who is a senior police officer, who patiently listens to her story and sends out a search party. Nothing is found.
Humiliated, Susan tracks down her old Bletchley friends. Perhaps they can help prove her theory right. They are spectacularly – and horribly – successful, finding the body of a young woman, the latest victim.
The Bletchley Circle proved to be a clever and gripping story. But beneath the thrilling drama is an interesting perspective of the women struggling to find a role after their heroic wartime efforts.