Filming to start on Colin Howell drama

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The double-murder which shocked Northern Ireland is set to be turned into a TV drama later this year, it has been confirmed.

In May 1991, Ballymoney dentist Colin Howell killed wife Leslie and the husband of his lover Hazel Stewart, police officer Trevor Buchanan, and made it look like a suicide pact between lovers.

The bodies were found in a fume-filled car in Castlerock.

Howell confessed to church elders, who urged him to inform police and he pleaded guilty in 2010. Stewart was also jailed for murder.

The story gripped the province and further afield and now it is set to become a three-part television drama.

Deric Henderson, author of the best-selling ‘Let This Be Our Secret’, which gave the inside story of the double murder, confirmed the news last week.

“Filming will begin later this year in Belfast and the north coast,” he said. “The cast has yet to be finalised, but I’m expecting some big hitters.”

It looks likely that local actor James Nesbitt will play the leading role. Writer/Director Stuart Urban confirmed on his website that he is currently working on the three-part true crime drama for ITV Drama and Hat-Trick Productions ‘starring James Nesbitt’.

Urban visited the province earlier this year to check out locations and now it seems everything is set for filming to begin on the production.

“It has all in the ingredients of a remarkable drama,” said a TV insider. “It’s a gripping story of sex, lies and betrayal, especially as Howell and Stewart were involved in a tryst under the very noses of their fellow Christians in a Baptist church.

“And it’s made all the more intriguing by the fact that if Howell hadn’t admitted what he did and subsequently testified against his former lover, then he and Stewart would still be walking free today.”

The drama is sure to grip the nation again, with the much-anticipated portrayal of Howell by local man Nesbitt.

Speaking of the killer’s court appearances Deric recalled: “Howell loved it. He was centre stage and all of us were hanging on his every word.

“I’ve covered trials for 40 years and this was far and away the most gripping. When he took the stand it was brilliant, sensational.

“The drama, the theatre - this guy was something else.”

Fellow local actor, Bronagh Waugh, has recently said she is “open to talks” about playing Hazel Stewart in the drama.

The Fall star, 32, said: “ I haven’t been approached but if I was I would certainly like to talk about it and would definitely consider it.”