Landscapers TV drama: Is Olivia Coleman’s new series a true story?

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  • Olivia Coleman stars in Landscapers, a new series that’s based on a true story and available to watch this week. 

    Directed by Will Sharpe (Flowers and The Darkest Universe), created and written by Coleman’s husband Ed Sinclair, the star-studded show follows the case of a double murder committed in 1998 – and not discovered for 15 years.

    For true-crime enthusiasts who loved The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicone Valley, all about who Elizabeth Holmes is or Undeniable, this show is definitely a must-watch as it’s full of bizarre happenings and intrigue. So what’s the story behind Landscapers? And how can you watch it in the UK?

    Is Landscapers a true story?

    Yes, for the most part, Landscapers is a true story

    The TV series tells the story of Susan and Christopher Edwards, who murdered and buried Susan’s parents – William and Patricia Wycherley – in the back garden of their Nottingham home in 1998. 

    It was a crime that stayed undiscovered for a decade as Susan and Christopher pretended that the parents were still alive. They wrote letters to friends, Christmas cards to family and forged signatures on official documents. Over a period of 15 years, they used William and Patricia’s identities to siphon off benefits and take out loans mounting up to a reported £285,286.

    The couple spent much of the money on Hollywood souvenirs, particularly photographs of the star Gary Cooper, as they were “obsessive” about 1930s and 50s’ cinema. 

    DCI Griffin, who worked on the case, told the BBC that the couple didn’t lead a particularly “lavish lifestyle”.

    “It would seem that the vast majority of their money was spent on memorabilia, on authenticated autographed items of people that they admired,” he said.

    In 2012, Susan and Christopher began to think that the police were onto their crime. The Department of Work and Pensions had demanded to see William Wycherley, supposedly about to turn 100-years-old, in person. So, the couple fled to France. But after spending over £250,000 in one year, they had one euro to their name. 

    They announced a plan to surrender themselves and authorities arrested them at St Pancras Station on their return to the UK.

    David Thewlis and Olivia Coleman in Landscapers

    David Thewlis and Olivia Coleman in Landscapers, Credit: Alamy

    Susan and Christopher admitted to the lesser crime of manslaughter. But, in 2014, Nottingham Crown Court found the couple guilty of murder and sentenced them to 25 years in prison. 

    Speaking about the plot of Landscapers, Olivia Coleman said, “It’s about a couple, the Edwards, who we know from the beginning have committed a crime. They’ve committed a murder. So you automatically go, ‘Bad! Oh, awful people!’ But then you look into it more and you see that they are two gentle people who are very devoted to each other, and in love.

    “You don’t know what happened that night [when Susan’s parents were murdered]. But the fact that there’s historical abuse, that she was abused by her father: that does something to a person.”

    Where are Susan and Christopher Edwards now?

    Both Susan and Christopher Edwards are in prison. They have already served seven years of their 25-year sentence. 

    They are in undisclosed prisons in the UK. 

    The judge told the couple during their sentencing, “You are in your late 50s. You are going to spend most, if not all, of the rest of your lives in prison. I accept that prison has been very difficult for both of you. Susan Edwards, I accept that you are particularly isolated and will remain so throughout your sentence.” 

    Olivia Coleman and David Thewlis, who play Susan and Christopher Landscapers TV series, which is based on a true story

    Olivia Coleman and David Thewlis at the UK premiere of Landscapers, Credit: Alamy

    Susan’s lawyers filed an appeal against her sentence shortly after prosecution. Her lawyers argued that the sentence was “too long” and that the evidence of her father’s abuse was not properly taken into account during the initial trial. However, a judge rejected this. 

    Christopher’s lawyers also filed an appeal against his sentence. This was unsuccessful too. 

    Where to watch Landscapers in the UK

    Landscapers premieres on Sky Atlantic and NOW on Tuesday December 7 2021.

    To watch the series on NOW, you’ll need to sign up for a subscription. Starting with a 30-day free trial, you’ll have a month to use the platform before having to pay. You can also cancel at any time.

    It’s also available to watch in the US from Monday December 6 on HBO Max.