Playing For The Ashes

Cast
Nathaniel Parker .... Det. Insp. Thomas Lynley
Sharon Small .... Det. Sgt. Barbara Havers
Clare Swinburne .... Gabriella Patten
Mark Brighton .... Kenneth Waring
Andrew Havill .... Insp. Ardrey
Lesley Vickerage .... Helen Clyde
Ruth Gemmell .... Jeannie Waring
William Scott-Masson .... Official
Phyllis Logan .... Miriam Whitelaw
Joe Duttine .... Chris Faraday
Neve McIntosh .... Olivia Whitelaw
Curtis Flowers .... Jimmy Waring
Daisy Beaumont .... Amanda
Peter Crawford .... Newscaster
Andrew Clover .... Hugh Patten
Anjalee Patel .... Hadiyyah

Directed by Richard Spence
Written by Kate Wood, based on a novel by Elizabeth George
First Broadcast on BBC One March 10, 2003

Plot

Following an argument with his girlfriend, England cricketer Kenneth Waring dies of asphyxiation in a house fire. The fire, started deliberately, was in the country house of Waring's good friend, and one time guardian, Miriam Whitelaw. Lynley's love of all things cricket means that he accepts the case readily.

Miriam Whitelaw is devastated to hear of Kenneth's death, whilst his estranged wife Jeanie is the one who identifies the body. Jeanie and Kenneth's oldest son Jimmy is not only very angry at his father's death but harbours resentment for the failure of his parent's marriage. Miriam Whitelaw also has an estranged daughter Olivia (a former prostitute and drug addict) who is actively involved an animal rights and who has managed to thus far keep her terminal illness a secret from her mother.

Although Lynley and Havers are keen to find the last person to see Kenneth alive, the missing Gabriella Patten - Kenneth's girlfriend and agent, the evidence is clearly pointing to the guilt of young Jimmy. Jimmy openly confesses to his guilt, but controversially Lynley is convinced of Jimmy's innocence. Ultimately it is the tortured Olivia Whitelaw, being painfully aware of her own mortality and in wanting to protect Jimmy, who leads them to the real killer.

Helen is initially very cool (typical!) towards Lynley, and they even come to blows when Helen is mistakenly convinced of Jimmy's guilt. The anguish on Lynley's face is evident during this confrontation. The biggest 'mystery' of all is why Lynley is just so interested in such a cold and unappealing woman! However at the end of the episode their relationship appears to have a corner with Helen now interested in taking it further.

This episode contains one of the most delightful 'bonding' scenes between Havers and Lynley. Havers has just moved into her new flat and Lynley helps carry her new fridge in. He admires the flat and she makes him toast. Although Havers is somewhat shy of his presence, they exchange a friendly conversation and Lynley shows her some genuine warmth. The scene is especially amusing because on his arrival Havers quickly hides her drying knickers in the cutlery drawer - only for Lynley to come across them when they make the toast!

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