Have I married a serial killer?

Have I married a serial killer? A string of unsolved murders. The arrest of a respected village GP. And a wife with dark secrets in her past. The Split’s Annabel Scholey on her racy new psychological thriller…

  • Annabel Scholey stars in the racy British thriller, based on the 2021 bestseller
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Actors usually dread doing sex scenes, but The Split’s Annabel Scholey was drawn to the lead role in The Serial Killer’s Wife precisely because the many intimate moments took her out of her comfort zone.

The racy British thriller, based on the 2021 bestseller by Alice Hunter, centres on Beth and Tom Fairchild, a seemingly perfect couple for whom parenthood hasn’t dimmed the passion. 

Even when Tom is accused of a heinous crime, the physical connection between them remains strong, requiring the actors to hop between the sheets for many energetic encounters.

‘It was a scary part and I always think that when you’re reading a script, if it scares you then you should probably do it,’ says Annabel, 39. 

‘It’s quite a physically challenging part as there were a few fight scenes as well as sex scenes, and because it had such a sexual side to it I had to do a lot of work to mentally prepare.’

Annabel Scholey, 39, plays the lead role of Beth Fairchild in The Serial Killer’s Wife while Jack Farthing plays her husband, Tom

She says it helped conquer her fears that she was already mates with Jack Farthing, who plays her husband. 

‘I felt very comfortable with him and we had an intimacy coordinator, one of the first times I’ve ever worked with one. I was sceptical because I’ve been in the industry a long time and have had to wing sex scenes. But it was good. We choreographed the scenes and then we were able to just relax on set.’

The four-part Paramount+ series kicks off with a shocking arrest during a glittering birthday bash. Beth is throwing a party for village doctor Tom when DI Aline Edgeworth (Angela Griffin) bursts in to arrest him for the murder of his former receptionist. 

The arrest knocks Beth sideways and shocks their guests, many of them luminaries in their posh village. Shobna Gulati plays headmistress Kiran, Holby’s Hari Dhillon is Tom’s lawyer and pal Maxwell, Morgana Robinson plays snobby local mum Jules and Luke Treadaway is Adam, Tom’s best mate since childhood.

Although Beth initially sticks up for Tom, she begins to wonder how much she really knew about him and when she roots around his possessions she’s shocked by what she finds. 

‘She has to rethink everything she thinks she knows about her husband and her life starts to unravel,’ says Annabel. ‘But she makes some dubious choices along the way. And you start to wonder, “Is she good?”‘

Beth’s initial priority is to protect her husband and their daughter, Poppy. ‘But when the police investigation uncovers other murders of local women who were also connected to Tom, she can’t help but look a bit more closely at what’s going on,’ says executive producer Andy Morgan. 

‘It’s not long before she must work hard to try to keep secrets in her own past from coming to light.’

The role marks Annabel’s first TV lead after two decades as a supporting player. She received rave reviews for her portrayal of Ann-Marie Blake in The Sixth Commandment opposite Anne Reid, and as one of the Defoe sisters in legal drama The Split with Nicola Walker.

In fact, Annabel turned to Nicola for advice on her first starring role. ‘She’s a really good friend and a bit of a mentor,’ says Annabel. ‘So I called her and said, “Oh my God Nic, how on earth do I start learning the lines?”‘

Scholey was driven to take on the lead role in The Serial Killer’s Wife because the many intimate moments took her out of her comfort zone

Nicola instructed Annabel to colour code her script by week to make learning the lines easier, and to make friends with key crew members so she could develop a shorthand with them.

The Serial Killer’s Wife is set in an idyllic English village and was filmed mostly in the Kent seaside town of Folkestone. 

But because one of the series’ production companies is Italian, the cast were flown to Puglia in southern Italy for a week in July to film the police interrogation scenes. Alas, that came amid a scorching heatwave with temperatures soaring to 40°C. 

‘It was boiling,’ recalls Annabel. ‘A couple of times I got dropped at the seafront on the way back from filming and had a little dip and then walked home. That was really nice… and the food and wine were amazing!’

It all adds up to a stylish thriller with themes of sex, coercive control and obsession set to the backdrop of English village life, and quite possibly another hit to add to Annabel Scholey’s collection.

  • The Serial Killer’s Wife, from Friday, Paramount+.

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