Full series drops on ITVX on Thursday 30 March
‘Six Four’ by Hideo Yokoyama is a novel about the individual’s relationship to the truth, and the moral corruption that can exist in institutions and the people who populate them.
Set in a Japanese police department, it tracks the corrosive effects of a mistake in a historic kidnap case which led to the death of a young girl. The mistake, by a panicked young policeman, was covered up, but haunts those involved for the rest of their careers, and, inevitably, corrupts the institution of which they are a part. When, fifteen years later, a detective is provoked into revisiting the case when his own daughter goes missing, he is forced to fight against the suffocating hierarchy of deference that blights Japanese society in order to reveal the truth about the institution he is working for.
The UK is, obviously a much less deferential society than Japan, but part of the reason that I thought ‘Six Four’ would prove fertile territory for a television adaptation here is that in recent years we have not lacked our own examples of institutional inertia; whether miscarriages of justice, failures of governance, or scandals in politics and business, our public life and collective health has been jeopardised by corruption. In many of these situations the same dilemma is at their core; to what is the individual within the institution loyal, and does that loyalty inevitably lead to a compromise with the truth. The individual’s relationship with truth is what lies at the heart of ‘Six Four’.
Marriage is also an institution. At the core of the story of ‘Six Four’, there is a couple whose loyalty to each other, and relationship with the truth, is also being tested. In my adaptation, our couple, Chris and Michelle, have their lives thrown into turmoil by the disappearance of their teenage daughter, Olivia. The sudden absence of the child who represents their shared life and their love for each other, and who has been present in their relationship since the very beginning, forces them into a confrontation with their past and present. It forces them to re-examine everything. In the first instance, this fissure is provoked by their contrasting approach to how they tackle Olivia’s disappearance. While Michelle heads for London and her previous life as an undercover police officer in the Met, Chris, still a serving detective in the Scottish Police, finds himself becoming drawn into a historic case by the questions of a journalist who is following up a lead on a story about it. This historic case is not something Chris was involved in, but it does involve his brother, Philip, who is about to be appointed the Chief Constable of the Scottish Police Service.
As Michelle delves deeper into her past life, and the deceptions that were an inevitable part of her job, she has to confront the dangerous people she was investigating, people who may still want to do her harm, but also the possibility that this life has made her too adept at lying. Chris, at the same time, is realising that the truth about the historical case he is pursuing, may not only destroy his brother’s stellar career, but also endanger his own and his family’s lives. And, both of them, separately, are converging on the same truth; that perhaps the person who may be the thing that holds them together, is the thing that is going to drive them apart.
DC Chris O’Neill is approached by a journalist about a cold case involving a missing girl. His own daughter is also missing, and his wife Michelle goes to London to search for her.
Thank you for reading this post.