‘That’s not so comfortable for you, is it?’: The Spectre of Misogyny in The Fall

  • Caroline Magennis
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


The Fall is a television crime drama filmed and set in Belfast. The first series premiered in May 2013, giving BBC Two their highest ratings for a drama in eight years; the second series was screened in November and December 2014. It was created and written by Allan Cubitt, whose most significant previous work was the crime drama Prime Suspect 2 (1992), which shares thematic and stylistic similarities with The Fall. The latter is haunted by two spectres that show uncanny correspondences: Paul Spector’s femicide and the legacy of the Troubles. It follows two main narratives: Spector (Jamie Dornan), a serial killer in Belfast, and the Metropolitan Police Officer, DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), charged with reviewing the investigation into his first murders. Spector’s chosen victims are young, professional women, whom he first stalks and then murders, usually by strangulation. His shocking crimes are contrasted with depictions of him as a loving husband and father, and working as a grief counsellor. Gibson’s public and private roles likewise alternate and overlap during the drama: while she ceaselessly works to catch Spector she also has sexual intrigue through casual trysts with junior colleagues James Olsen (Ben Peel) and Tom Anderson (Colin Morgan) and deals with inappropriate advances from her former lover, Chief Constable Jim Burns (John Lynch). As the narrative progresses, Spector continues to target and hunt women as Gibson builds her team and her case. Eventually, when he is disturbed during a murder, his plans unravel, and he must rely on a young woman he has groomed to misdirect Gibson’s detectives. The ambiguous ending of the second series left the possibility open for Spector’s return, and a third series will air in 2016.


Intimate Partner Violence Sexual Violence Serial Killer Metropolitan Police Prime Suspect 
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Articles, Books, Pamphlets, Television Programmes and Websites

  1. McKinty, Adrian, and Stuart Neville, Belfast Noir (New York: Akashic, 2014).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Magennis
    • 1
  1. 1.ManchesterUK

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