It is the mystery over a fictional Edinburgh child killer which has gripped millions across the UK all week.
Viewers have been furiously debating the true identity of Eddie J Turner as the BBC One drama The Victim has become Britain’s latest hotly-debated “watercooler drama” over the past four nights.
But the final instalment in the story, which has revolved around the trial of Anna Dean (Kelly Macdonald) – a mother accused of conspiring to murder a man she believes killed her nine-year-old son – delivered a dramatic twist which left fans of the new Scottish crime and justice thriller reeling.
John Hannah starred opposite Macdonald as a detective determined to seek justice for a Halloween attack on bus driver Craig Myers (James Harkness), who is married with a young daughter.
The drama, which has had clear echoes of the 1993 James Bulger murder and the new identities given to his killers, has seen a host of possible suspects hotly debated on social media.
But the hour-long finale saw Myers, who seemed to have been an innocent victim of mistaken identity, suddenly admit to the murder in a face-to-face meeting with the mother.
The penultimate instalment had ended on a cliffhanger when private investigator Mo Buckley, who had been hired by Dean, looked to have uncovered shocking evidence that Tom Carpenter, the best friend of Myers, was actually the killer.
In the opening scenes of the final instalment, Dean is left devastated by the realisation she has targeted the wrong man. But the tearful confession emerged during a tense “restorative justice” meeting between Dean and Myers after she is convicted of a lesser charge of assault to danger of life and attempts to apologise for her actions.
Myers’ surprise confession emerged after Dean tried to explain the impact the murder has had on her life, telling him: “None of this is any excuse for what I have done to you. I thought it was you and I was wrong. I’m sorry.”
Myers told Dean: “So if I wasn’t him you wouldn’t be sorry?”
She replied: “No, I wouldn’t be sorry. I can’t apologise for trying to get justice for my son. I though naively that if I made him stand up in court it would all come out, the mask would slip, he’d have to face me and I’d find out why.”
When Myers tried to explain to Dean that she was “not the only one” who knew about guilt and anger she replied: “I’d be lying if I said I was sorry for trying to find Turner, but the last thing I wanted was for more innocent people to get hurt. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you.” However an anguished Myers then blurted out: “I’m not Craig. I’m Eddie J Turner. That’s why I’m here. There’s no getting away from it. I’m him and he’s me. He still is.”
A previous scene saw an encounter between the pair, at the scene of the murder 15 years earlier, in which the killer attempted to explain what happened and express remorse for his actions as a 13-year-old, before Dean appears to offer forgiveness and stops her former husband from attacking her son’s murderer.
Myers had told Dean: “They told me I would have to forgive myself, like it is a decision I can make. I couldn’t do it. But I can’t live with this, every minute of every day. How do I go on? I know I can’t make it right. I knew it would never go away. I have got no right to be happy. Not even for a minute.
“There’s not much that can be said in the end, is there? But I am Anna, I am so sorry.”
The Victim’s writer, Rob Williams, whose story was originally inspired the polarising murder trial of South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius, revealed he had intended from the outset for Myers to be the killer, but made every effort to ensure the outcome was kept as quiet as possible during the making of the series.
Speaking ahead of the broadcast of the final episode, Williams said: “The thing that changed was what happened to Craig at the end. I was also keen to leave open what would happen to him. We didn’t even go back to the court to see what happens with the sentencing of Anna. We felt that that wasn’t what it was really about. It was a legal thriller, but a human drama is what it really is. We tried to show that literally in the way that it plays out.
“It’s been a really great experience for me has been trying to work what I think about this subject and these characters. You try to leave room for them to surprise you. You hope that they live and breath after a while and start talking from themselves.
“The reaction to the first three episodes has been absolutely phenomenal. It will be really interesting to see how people respond to the finale.
“For us, it wasn’t just about entertaining people and enjoying all the guessing about it. I’m not suggesting that people are under-valuing the human tragedy, but I hope in the cold light of day that people realise that it was a totally real outcome.
“I’m fascinated to find out whether people were surprised at the outcome. I’ve watched other shows and been disappointed at their finale. I really hope that’s not the case here. James Harkness’s performance throughout the series, but especially in the final episode, was extraordinary. To play that part with such truth and power was pretty special.”