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Murder on the Victorian Railway (2013)

Mixing narration with 'talking heads' portrayals of eye witnesses this tells how,in July 1864,elderly banker Thomas Briggs is found dying on railway lines near Hackney. He had been hit on ... See full summary »


Chris Durlacher


Kate Colquhoun (based on the book "Mr Briggs' Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain's First Railway Murder"), Chris Durlacher


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Cast overview:
Ben Addis Ben Addis ... Frederick Wicks
David Nellist ... Alfred Ekin
Patrick Warner Patrick Warner ... Thomas Briggs Junior
Robert Whitelock ... Richard Tanner
Guy Williams Guy Williams ... Red Top
Gary Oliver ... Thunderer
Jim Conway ... Jonathan Matthews
Lucas Hansen ... Johan Hoffa
Thorston Manderlay Thorston Manderlay ... Gottfried Kinkel
Stephen Critchlow Stephen Critchlow ... Parry
Genevieve Barr ... Mary Anne Eldred
Teresa Churcher ... Elizabeth Jones
David Marken David Marken ... Franz Muller
Toby Jones ... Narrator


Mixing narration with 'talking heads' portrayals of eye witnesses this tells how,in July 1864,elderly banker Thomas Briggs is found dying on railway lines near Hackney. He had been hit on the head,robbed and his body thrown from the carriage - making him the first ever murder victim on a train. As a result national panic ensues regarding the safety of rail travel. In response to an offer of a reward by Inspector Tanner cab-driver Jonathan Matthews identifies a hat found at the murder scene as belonging to young German tailor Franz Muller who has left the country to emigrate to America. Tanner follows and arrests him,returning him to London for trial. A group of wealthy German radicals pay for him to be defended by top lawyer John Parry,who does his best to discredit Matthews,a known liar and felon. He also produces an alibi in the form of Muller's girl-friend but,as she is a prostitute,it fails to impress the jury and Muller is publicly hanged. Frederick Wicks,a journalist interested ... Written by don @ minifie-1

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Release Date:

21 February 2013 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color | Black and White (some archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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User Reviews

Good but flaws.
1 March 2013 | by johnrepschSee all my reviews

I enjoyed the programme and feel that it could easily have been longer. There's no question that Kate Colquhoun had provided a rich source of background material in her book for the documentary makers to feast on. I found the conjuring up of the 1864 atmosphere especially impressive.

However, as for creating the uncertainty as to whether or not Muller was guilty, I think they took too much artistic licence. Just because he was relaxed on the voyage home didn't make him innocent!

For example, my great-great grandparents, Ferdinand and Elizabeth Repsch, were friends of Muller's, but were not mentioned in the documentary. Muller often worked with Ferdinand in his tailoring shop, and Elizabeth recognized the hat that had been left at the scene of the crime as Muller's. No doubt raising such evidence in the documentary would have made the case against Muller even more overwhelming, and cost it some of the drama they wanted to drum up.

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