The following outline of what went on before Emma's murder was drafted by me as
a basis for discussion by the production team. The intention was to provide a
detailed account of what actually happened, and to explain events which the
scripts sometimes did little more than allude to. The point of this exercise was
to see whether or not the scripts made sense from all angles, and if not,
whether the scripts or 'back story' should be amended. One of the details which
was subsequently changed was the existence of a second survivor of the Northmoor
raid. This character was eventually cut out.
In August 1983 radioactive isotopes, caught in the scanner at the Corrie
Reservoir outside Craigmills, brought the pump station to a halt and caused a
Minute traces of caesium and ruthenium, thought to have been windborne from
Sellafield, eighty miles north-west of Craigmills, were found in the water and
it was some weeks before the reservoir was officially cleared of contamination.
Friends of the Earth, concerned about the effect of emissions of slow-decaying
isotopes from the Windscale towers, were quick to point to the Corrie Reservoir
as a first-class example of what they had been worried about since 1978.
Officials at the Sellafield plant were equally quick to deny any responsibility
and came up with all sorts of graphs about prevailing winds, temperatures and
cloud base at the time of the autumn equinox, all of which were ignored by the
press, who knew a good story when they saw one.
Tony Marsh, a Sellafield engineer, was sent to take samples of the Craigmills
water, and his report was the first (and only one) to point a finger at the
Northmoor Nuclear Storage Plant as the possible culprit. Northmoor, a small
waste facility to the west of Craigmills, was run by a private company,
International Irradiated Fuels (or IIF as it liked to be called), whose managing
director was Robert Bennett.
Marsh confirmed that isotopes of caesium and ruthenium had been found at
Craigmills consistent with those given off in the reprocessing of spent fuel at
Sellafield. This appeared to condemn Sellafield out of hand, but Marsh pointed
out that the Northmoor plant has recently been given permission to store spent
fuel from the Magnox power station in deep caves under the moors. These Magnox
rods were known to corrode rapidly in water, and it was possible that the toxic
elements had seeped through the floor of the caves into the water-table beneath
Craigmills. Such isotopes could have included caesium and ruthenium.
Friends of the Earth saw this has an attempt to divert attention from the
deplorable conditions at Sellafield, and their attitude was reinforced by an
appearance of Bennett on television, stoutly defending the safety record of his
company, putting himself an altruistic servant of the public, taking on a dirty
job no one wanted to do, and implying that as a private enterprise company he
was outside the lobby of self-interest which protected the big state firms, and
so was a firm candidate for a scapegoat. The press took the same view as Friends
of the Earth, although the scandal was now superseded by the issue of the
Sellafield pipeline raised by Greenpeace.
What feeble resistance Sellafield was able to put up in its defence
disintegrated when it was leaked that one of the isotopes not mentioned in the
original discovery (but mentioned in Marsh report) was krypton. This isotope is
common only in the reprocessing of plutonium, not in the decay of Magnox rods.
Since the only plutonium reprocessing plant in the country existed at
Sellafield, the case now seemed to have been well and truly proven.
In October, Marsh, who continued to proclaim Sellafield's innocence in this
business, was killed in a road accident, and with his death the matter seemed to
Two organizations, neither of which advertised itself, were not convinced by the
media's coverage of the events. One was Gaia, a shadowy organization of
scientists who were concerned with the ecological implications of their work.
The other was a mini department attached to the Cabinet Office in Whitehall, run
by Pendleton and Harcourt, who had direct access to the secretary to the cabinet
(and thus to the prime minister). Their brief was to look into anything which in
their opinion warranted their interest. Northmoor evidently did.
Pendleton's lanky figure could have been seen poking around at the scene of
Marsh's accident, and also at the pumping stations of the West Yorkshire Water
Board, where he made sure that if there were any fresh incidents, he would be
the first to be informed.
The Gaia interest was slightly more obscure. A mole at Windscale/Sellafield,
convinced that Marsh's report was indeed accurate, sent a copy to an eminent
engineer who had been a founder member of Gaia.
Who and what is Gaia? In 1977 a group of concerned scientists, engineers and
civil servants met in London to discuss their opposition to Thorpe, the proposed
nuclear reprocessing plant at Windscale. They were concerned with the social and
scientific consequences of the plant, which would eventually turn Britain into a
nuclear state; they were also worried about the ultimate environmental issues.
They believed that plutonium could eventually destroy not only civilization but
also life itself on the planet. Their fears were to a degree shared by President
Carter of the United States, who was worried about the spread of plutonium on
the world market, and the consequence which might follow if it were bought by a
Khomeini or Gadaffi.
Carter encouraged the English scientists to form a respectable opposition to
argue against the current establishment view that the nuclear state represented
the best bet for post-imperial Britain. To this end he sent Darius Jedburgh, a
top CIA agent, to London to orchestrate opposition to Thorpe and to lobby the
1977 Conference on Nuclear Proliferation which was due to held in London
Although the group did not succeed in imposing their views on the conference or
at the Windscale inquiry, they were successful, along with Friends of the Earth
and the Network for Nuclear Concern, in making a powerful case against the
spread of plutonium.
Carter, a year later, alarmed by the progressive modernisation of Russia's
nuclear armoury, issued PD59, the now famous presidential directive which
initiated a new nuclear arms race (the results of which are only now coming to
light). PD59 changed the viability of Britain's plutonium programme. Instead of
being an irritant in the special relationship between Britain and America, it
became an asset.
Jedburgh, instructed to abandon the anti-Sellafield cause and to ditch its most
lucid supporters, found it more difficult and anticipated. The organization went
underground and, following the publication of Jim Lovelock's book, The Gaia
Hypothesis (1979), it began to be known as Gaia, even though Lovelock's ideas
were only marginally relevant to the now clandestine organization's aims.
Gaia grew rapidly in the years 1980 to 1984, particularly amongst scientific
officers of the Civil Service. It got its biggest support following the Prime
Minister's inept handling of the GCHQ union dispute in March 1984. That, plus
the outcome of the New York/Washington Conference on the Nuclear Winter, did
much to make scientists think of the serious dangers which now faced the planet.
It was at this stage in Gaia's development that Marsh's data became available to
a senior member of its inner council. The logic of the Marsh report was as
follows: if the quantities of krypton found in the reservoir water were not
attributable to Sellafield, yet could only originate from a plutonium
reprocessing plant, there had to be another plant somewhere, and that could only
be at Northmoor. The inference, unbelievable though it might seem, was that
Northmoor was a clandestine reprocessing plant whose end product was plutonium.
The political implications were mind-boggling. Such a plant could not have been
built without official help, nor run without official approval. What's more, a
great deal of effort must have gone into keeping it secret.
Northmoor, under Bennett's guidance, had benefited from the Conservative's
enthusiasm for privatisation and from their deep distrust of Britain's nuclear
establishment, which was currently reforming under new management at the Central
Electricity Generating Board.
Bennett had persuaded the government to back a pilot scheme in the management of
nuclear waste. As government-owned mines (purchased in the 1950's from the coal
board for obsolete defence projects) lay dormant in Yorkshire, Bennett suggested
that they should be leased to him to start a nuclear waste facility. He was
determined to use them to develop his own methods of storage to research new
techniques for verification, etc.
In this he had the backing of much of the anti-nuclear establishment, who
believed that the best way to handle waste was not to break it down as was being
done at Sellafield (thus releasing its dangerous constituents) but to store it
until new technology and engineering were developed which would make it safer to
handle. This had the added advantage that, with the passing of time, many of
the more powerful substances would have decayed and lost their toxicity.
In 1979 IIF were therefore given limited go-ahead and in 1980b Bennett opened
his gates to the waste of the world. 'Bring me your poor, your starving, and
your…' had been changed by Bennett into 'Bring me your waste, your spent fuel
and your sludge'. But his company articles limited him to low-grade storage
It was only in 1983, when a foul-up occurred in the processing of Magnox rods at
Windscale and a backlog of high-level waste began to build up throughout the
systems, ultimately threatening the functioning of the power stations
themselves, that Bennett was allowed to begin to store high-level spent fuel,
mostly plutonium rich rock from the Magnox power stations.
The implications of what might be happening at Northmoor filtered down the Gaia
organization to the younger echelons in the universities. These young,
proto-eco-terrorists, not content to monitor the water of the Corrie Reservoir
to see it there were any more leaks, decided to mount a raid on the Northmoor
itself in the hope of finding the source of the plutonium.
The Northmoor Break-in
Emma Craven, a life scientist who had just joined the Craigmills Teacher
Training College, having graduated from Cambridge, was given the job of
organizing the break-in. A year after the discovery of the first radioactivity
in the Corrie Reservoir, six scientists, including Emma, broke into Northmoor,
entering through disused mineshafts on a route devised by a local trade-union
leader, James Godbolt, who had promised his expertise and aid.
The raid was an appalling tragedy. While returning through the drainage tunnels
near the centre of the plant, the main party was engulfed by water and all four
members drowned. Two escaped: Emma, who had been left at the sluice gates as
part of the back-up (only four physicists were selected for the final
reconnaissance) and Kenyon Peel, another biologist who had been left guarding
equipment at the entrance to the Great Cave (the section which divided the
deserted mineshafts from the walls of the plant).
Emma and Kenyon escaped but were unable to provide Gaia with any news about the
reprocessing plant other than the death of their comrades.
Faced with a major crisis which might well rebound against them, Gaia made crude
plans to disguise the disappearance of the four scientists in such a way that it
would not cause comments. Since they came from different parts of the country,
their disappearance could be temporarily explained by statements that they had
gone abroad, etc.
Gaia was concerned that IIF would announce that their plant had been raided.
But, significantly, nothing of the sort occurred. What did happen was that
Kenyon Peel died in a motor accident a few weeks later and Emma Craven, whose
father was a senior Yorkshire detective, was shot by a crazed ex-convict out on
a vengeance trip. It was assumed he had wanted the father but in the heat of the
moment succeeded in killing only the daughter.
While the hunt was on for the killer (a man called McCroon) his sidekick
(Lowe), Detective Superintendent Craven, Emma's father, begain to make a few
preliminary investigations of his own. He soon became aware that 'there was
another dimension to the murder' and that it involved Northmoor. He began to
doubt whether Emma's death was, as his fellow officers stated, simple a question
of vengeance; he began to incline towards the view that she had been killed in
an attempt to silence her.
While this was going on, another character was taking an interest in the events
at Northmoor. Darius Jedburgh, the man who had set up Gaia, golfer
extraordinaire, and the last of the old CIA field agents, living in London on
what amounted to half pay, had become interested in the original press story
about the Corrie Reservoir. Jedburgh, who was not as gullible as the science
correspondents of the quality newspapers, read the Marsh report and at once
concluded that the British were hiding illicit plutonium in the caves in an
effort to fool their closest ally (the Yanks) the true nature of their plutonium
Jedburgh commissioned a report on Northmoor, trying to use old contacts in Gaia
to get to the bottom of the mystery. The report, which he forwarded to Harcourt
and Pendleton, toughly confirmed the outline of the story so far.
Pendleton's and Harcourt's reaction on reading it was twofold. First, that the
building of a hot cell at Northmoor for the reprocessing of plutonium could not
have taken place without some official backing at the highest level; second,
that they should proceed very carefully, for, although Jedburgh's report was
very precise, its sources were non-attributable and the word 'alleged' occurred
in the text on twenty-two occasions - not the kind of document to justify a
full-scale search of the fifty miles of levels and corridors which made up the
They were, however, encouraged by two other developments: first, the death of
Emma Craven had brought in the Yorkshire Police into the investigation and, in
particular, Ronal Craven, an experienced police officer and a veteran of
Northern Ireland, who was likely to leave no stone unturned in investigating
Emma's past; second, a Parliamentary Inquiry was looming on the privatisation of
the nuclear industry. Northmoor, the pilot scheme, would come under close
scrutiny, particularly as Jerry Grogan, the owner of the Fusion Corporation of
Kansas, a rising star in the world of 'emerging technology', seemed to be keen
to acquire IIF.
To help the actors, I drafted thumbnail sketches of the characters, which they
could reject or accept as they saw fit. Some examples follow.
Ronald Woodhouse Craven
Ronald Woodhouse Craven was born in 1940 in the quiet desperation of the war.
His father, who had never seen the sea till the time of his call-up, drowned in
the Atlantic two years later. Ronald was brought up by his mother until her
death in 1948 of breast cancer. The farm outside Manchester where they lived was
then sold for a few pounds to pay her debts, and Ronnie went to live with his
mother's sister Emily at nearby Craigmills.
All he recalls of the time when his mother died are silver aeroplanes in the
blue sky and the trees near the farm where he used to walk. Of his father he
remembers nothing but a faint smell of Blanco and Woodbine and his mother's
cries in the night. Emily was a healer and it was through her that he learnt a
great deal about animals; his great-grandmother had been famed in the country
for her healing ways with animals. 'Woodhouse' had been her family name and
Craven found out years later in a Sunday newspaper that Woodhouse, or wudwusa,
means 'the wild man of the woods' - a European version of the Abominable
Snowman, or Caliban in the Tempest. But the idea of wudwusa was already familiar
when he read this. A nature lover, Craven liked his own company and shunned
Craven, a child of Beveridge's reforms of the education system in 1942, went to
the local grammar school. He received a grant for dinner money because of his
straitened circumstances and also a grant towards his clothes.
From grammar school Craven went on to Loughborough College, where he wanted to
study agriculture. However, he was involved in a pot-holing accident in Cheshire
in which a number of students dies, and this blew his mind. Dreams of his father
walking out of the sea, which he had repressed as a youngster, began reappearing
nightly. Advised to take the rest of the year off Craven shut himself up in a
cottage on the moors, working as a shepherd. It was two years before he
re-emerged, by which time his agricultural ambitions had gone.
It was 1961. He was twenty-one years old. It was a new Britain, the age of
youth, the Beatles, freedom, optimism - 'you never had it so good'. Craven
messed around with the art college types at Leeds, fell in love with and married
Ann Wharmby, a Montessori teacher. Within the year she was pregnant. After
marrying Ann, Craven joined the police force.
Craven's idea of the police force in those days was not a metropolitan one. He
wanted to get back to the moors with his new wife and their child. His only
experience of the police had been positive: in the Cheddar caves, where they had
been so courageous, and later up on the moors, where sometimes his only contact
with 'civilization' had been the little white van which ran across the hill
twice a week. There had been emergencies which he had been called out to feed
the sheep in the snow, to comb the ridge for lost hikers. He connected the
police with accidents, emergencies and the extremes of hardship, not with law
and order. By joining the police, he hoped his father would return to the sea.
And he did, but it was a long time before Craven worked sheep again, or saw the
wind comb the bog grass across the fells.
He was thrown directly into the policing of metropolitan Leeds. And, as the
affluent society spread, Craven found himself attached to CID; as a CID officer
proper, he worked first with the Drugs Squad - a completely new operation for
Yorkshire - and then later out on the divisions. He did not get back to the
country until he came to Craigmills in 1973.
Ann Wharmby was a big, soft-faced woman of calm demeanour and stable
disposition, whose parents never got over her marriage to Craven. A beautiful
young woman with an air of mystery (evoked by the fact that she did not talk
much), Ann had drifted among the Leeds art students, a prized companion of their
most colourful personalities, until she met Craven. In Craven she found a
strength and a disregard for rank and achievement which ran counter to her own
rather fashionable views. After they began to live together she drifted out of
the art scene and rarely visited her old haunts. Ann, who had trained as a
Montessori teacher, loved children but had a stroke of bad luck with the birth
of her own daughter - Emma was born in 1964 on the day preceding Wentworth, by
Caesarean section. Craven always had the feeling that the operation had been
forced upon his wife by a golf-mad gynaecologist who wanted his weekend free.
In the early years Ann experienced some difficulties with Emma (it was before
the concept of 'bonding') and Craven found himself drawn into a much closer
relationship with the child than would otherwise be considered normal. It was
some time before Ann was able to come top terms with her feeling of inadequacy
but her relationship with Emma did stabilize and the couple moved to the house
To pay for the house Craven volunteered for duty in Northern Ireland and, in
1973, when Emma was nine, he was sent to Portadown on the Irish border, attached
to headquarters there as a member of the Special Branch. At Portadown he was
responsible for the recruitment of informers in the Catholic section of the
population. At that time intelligence information was in very short supply and
was desperately needed.
Craven's strength lay in his interrogation methods. He had established a
reputation for 'getting information out of a corpse', his colleagues used to
say. Like all good interrogators, this was not primarily achieved by violence.
He was able to take over his prisoners, seeking out their emotional and
psychological weaknesses and supplying a certainty which in time they came to
rely on. They would supply information in return for these 'fixes'. (It is
significant in this context that Craven frequently referred to his prisoners as
It was therefore relatively easy for Craven to adapt his techniques to train
informers. Like most police informers, they became psychologically wedded to
their controller. One such person was McCroon, a passionate life-affirming Irish
patriot on the fringes of the Belfast underworld.
During the time Craven was away, Ann developed a melanoma. The original
operation proved successful but the condition recurred two years later and by
1974 she was dying. Ann's illness brought Craven back from Northern Ireland. His
return to England left his informers high and dry. Some were coupled to new
police officers but most were let go by his successor, cynically advertised as
'touts' (therefore spreading dissention in the provo ranks), or manipulated in
plots where they were expendable. None was given the protection Craven had
originally promised. McCroon fled to England and took to a life not dissimilar
to the one he had left in Northern Ireland: he robbed sub-post offices and on
one raid in Yorkshire killed a post mistress. It was the time of the Birmingham
bombing. Craven was brought in to track him down, which he did punctiliously.
McCroon admitted to the crime and got twelve years. This was in 1977.
The death of Ann in 1974 was a tremendous blow to Craven, even though it was
cushioned by the nightmare progress of the illness. What little confidence he
had in doctors waned even further when he saw their expertise crumble in the
face of disease and death.
Refusing to mourn her passing, with no more than an angry visit to the grave
where her pain-racked body had been buried, he gave himself over to his work,
haunted by the fear that his trip to Ireland had in fact helped to bring on the
illness. Emma became the sole reason for his existence, and his consolation.
He had a vivid memory of opening Ann's wardrobe to see three wool blazers for
Emma, each one bigger than the other, and new shoes with an E fitting taking her
up to fifteen years: things she had purchased before she died in the (justified)
knowledge that in some ways Craven would not be able to cope. Ann, anxieties and
all, lived on in Emma, sharing the house with the shadow of her mother, whose
loss still ached like an amputated limb, With such a convergence of feeling
Craven found no need to remarry or even have more than the occasional physical
relationship. He had a number of female friends but their presence in the house
was vigorously resisted by Emma, who felt from the earliest age that she was the
mistress of the house and should come first in her Daddy's affections. Who was
he to gainsay her?
Pendleton's background is ex-colonial (parents liven in Malaya an later Kenya -
coffee). Although English by birth, Pendleton was educated at Trinity College
Dublin, after which he became a regular officer in the Parachute Regiment. He
served in Aden, Indonesia, Vietnam (with the Australians) and Northern Ireland.
Later he pursued an unsuccessful career in the City (stockbroking/ insurance)
while continuing to serve as a Territorial Army office. Seconded to the SAS, he
began to disappear off on various unofficial missions (the kidnapping of a
British businessman; the guarding of British diplomats; the storming of hijacked
He tends to resist offers to commercialise his experience (and train various
counter-terrorist units throughout the world). He is not by nature an
intelligence officer, but really a field man with extensive knowledge of
anti-terrorist techniques. Divorced - twice - with no children, Pendleton's
fatal flaw is women. An opera buff and theatre goer, Pendleton would have liked
to have been an actor or an opera singer.
Solid middle-class background. Parents were international lawyers. Father an
official with the United Nations, died with Dag Hamershold in a plane crash.
Educated at Winchester and Cambridge. Studied law, took Silk in 1976. Married
prospective tory MP. Two children. Lives in the country.
Made his name with Games Board investigation of gambling casinos; Lloyd's
investigation of supertanker sinkings - a massive conspiracy to defraud
insurers; secret negotiations for the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese.
Freemand of the City of London; member of the Honourable Company of
Silversmiths; on the board of a dozen companies; refused knighthood because he
disapproved of the Falklands War (relatives in Argentine); nevertheless accepted
job to work in the Cabinet Office, having been recommended by Lord Rothschild.
Good raconteur; likes raffish company; millionaire.
Jedburgh is a large Falstaffian figure who dominates the latter half of Edge of
Darkness. Twenty years as a field operative in almost permanent exile has given
him a jaundiced view of the human race and in particular of the men who run the
CIA head office at Langley.
An anglophile, with the near belief that Gos is a golfer, Jedburgh is also a
devotee of Black Zen and the TV programme Come Dancing. Yet, with all his heavy
drinking and hillbilly airs, Jedburgh is a tough operative who knows exactly
what he is doing. And his tragic-comic ironical view of history and all the
setbacks that the CIA has had to suffer - in a never-ending series of political
defeats, from Vietnam to Central America - have not fogged his vision, which is
focused well beyond the limits of current American policy and party dogma.
What Craven knew
Much of the discussion during the development of the scripts concerned
structure. This was complicated by the fact that we all held differing views
about the nature of the detective story. Martin Campbell, the director, took the
view that a detective should ideally discover most of the story for himself. Bob
Peck, who played the part of Craven, agreed. I believed that because of the
complexity of the plat, Craven's task (and mine) would be simplified if he had
foreknowledge of much of what had happened.
I sent the following memo to Martin Campbell in an attempt to establish
agreement about what Craven did or did not know. This continued to be a subject
for debate right up to the end of the shooting.
1 He is aware of the contamination of the reservoir the previous year. His
daughter was involved in the investigation.
2 He has met with Tony Marsh and discussed the contamination with him; again,
Emma had worked with Marsh on his report. Emma and Marsh had disagreed violently
politically but had reached the same conclusion: that the source of the
pollution was probably Northmoor.
3 He had wondered if Marsh's death was murder.
4 He had had arguments with Emma about the legality and danger of going into
Northmoor. He had not seriously considered she would do it.
5 He did not know that she had contact with Godbolt or that she was interested
for her own reasons in the outcome of the inquiry into the voting fraud.
6 Because of pressure of work he had been neglecting her. He knew nothing of the
plan of the break-in with the aid of her inexpert partners, her informer
boyfriend, and the devious Godbolt; nor of the break-in itself, nor the
appalling experiences she underwent; nor the aftermath of the break-in and the
loneliness she must have experienced. Part of his remorse (now cut from Episode
Two) is that he had allowed her to carry such a heavy burden alone.
7 Craven becomes aware of a possible link between Emma's death and Northmoor for
two reasons: he is convinced that McCroon and Lowe did not have the motivation
to kill him on their own (Pendleton and Harcourt express a similar doubt but for
different reasons). He is aware of the danger of coincidence, but the fate of
the other Gaia participants does not have an effect on him. It makes him even
more suspicious, although there is still no evidence.
8 Craven's first confirmation comes with the murder of Shields; if that is cut
from the story, his suspicions will be confirmed for the first time in Episode
Four, when he sees the MI5 file on the R2 computer.
9 Marsh's report would not have alerted him to the idea that Northmoor was in
any way connected with his daughter's death, or that Northmoor security were
acting illegally. (They may have been acting secretly, which is something else.)
Had he believed they were acting illegally, as Emma did, he would have done
something about it.
10 It is important to note that a television audience, on learning the gist of
Marsh's report, would immediately conclude that something nasty was going on in
Northmoor, and that Northmoor was responsible for Emma's death. But the
characters in our story would not necessarily jump to the same conclusion. They
would be more circumspect about it, because they are not getting it out of a
television script. To explain the Tony Marsh story at the end of Episode Two
automatically gives the whole game away as far as our audience is concerned (it
confirms Northmoor management as the baddies with the hot cell who will stop as
nothing to keep their secret.) In Episode Five, however, the same information
serves a different purpose; it shows how Pendleton and Harcourt (end Jedburgh
and the CIA) had reservations which went back a long way and which are based on
hard evidence. It confirms the care they have taken in assembling their case and
shows that people in Whitehall are not all simple-minded cowboys.