‘Landscapers’: The True Story Behind HBO’s Surreal Crime Series

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Landscapers is a strange proverbial way of saying a title—a curtain that, when pulled back, reveals a disturbing tale of love and violent crime. HBO miniseries, premieres Monday night, stars Olivia Colman and David Thewlis as Susan and Christopher Edwards, A humble English couple lives abroad in France until their past crimes come back to haunt them. That crime? Kill Susan’s mother and elderly father, then bury their bodies in the back garden of their Mansfield house. A little landscape, if you will.

A four-part series, directed by a rising star Will Sharpe (Flowers, The Electric Life of Louis Wain) and written by Ed Sinclair, It’s a dark and action-packed romantic story. Sharpe gives the story a surrealism, sometimes turning his images black and white while drawing on Susan’s fantasies and delusional obsessions with old Hollywood stars. But Sharpe is also pretty faithful to the actual story, injecting the show into some of the odd details of the true crime story.

Just like in landscapers, The real Susan and Christopher met through a dating agency and were quickly married, according to Guardians. They shared a quiet life in Dagenham, never having children. Susan, a former librarian, stays at home while Christopher goes out and does bookkeeping. Even though Susan isn’t working, she’s been busy feeding her obsession with memorabilia, spending thousands of dollars the couple doesn’t have on items like autographed photos of Gary Cooper. Another item, one typed letter from Cooper, priced at $2,499. (Landscapers take this detail and run with it; Sharpe even covers an entire series of Western fantasy scenarios, a hit with Cooper classics like Hot sun.) The couple also seems to be obsessed with the French actor Gerard Depardieu, with Susan go so far send her letters written in Depardieu’s voice, convincing Chris that she and the star had been soul mates for 14 years.

Susan’s parents – Patricia, 63, and William Wycherley, 85 – hold themselves similarly, according to the Guardian. But their relationship with their daughter and son-in-law is murky. During the murder trial, Susan testified that her father had sexually abused her and that her mother was complicit. But that was not what led directly to her parents’ deaths.

Instead, the murders are tied to finances. In the 1970s, Susan’s step-grandmother left her a £10,000 inheritance, half of which Susan used to buy her parents’ old house in the suburbs of London, according to the BBC. Although Susan and Christopher struggled with the debt, Susan’s parents apparently convinced Susan to sign title to the house for them. She did, and they quickly sold the house, then moved to Mansfield – sparking resentment from Susan that would turn into a grudge that would last for years.

Susan and Christopher visited her parents in May 1998, on a bank holiday. This is when Patricia and William are killed. Later, Susan and Christopher told police that Patricia and William had a late-night fight, which resulted in Patricia shooting William dead. Susan and Patricia then got into an argument, which resulted in Susan shooting her mother to death. Christopher, Susan insisted, had nothing to do with the murder. All he did was dig graves to bury the bodies. Next business day, Susan withdraw £40,000 from her parents’ bank account.

For years, Susan and Christopher would maintain her parents’ home — mopping the gutters, mowing the lawn — and sending letters to family members on their behalf, impersonating them and saying they were traveling. Because the Wycherleys are so private, the neighbors are none the wiser. Edwardses also continue to receive pension of the deceased couple. They maintained the macabre conversation for so long that, according to the Guardian, the government sent a letter before William’s 100th birthday, asking to hold a meeting to assess his interests and note that he will receive a congratulatory telegram from Queen Elizabeth II. They picked up and left for Lille, France—The birthplace of Charles de Gaulle, one of Christopher’s obsessions.

In France, they continued to struggle with money as Christopher had difficulty finding work. They became so desperate that Christopher called his stepmother, Elizabeth (in the movie by a good bad guy Hunter Kathryn) and confessed to having buried the body, asking her for money to let them dispose of the funeral. As the miniseries shows, Elizabeth turned them into police instead, causing the discovery of the bodies in 2012 and the couple’s arrest. Until then, the duo has increased £245,000 from Susan’s deceased parents.

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2021/12/landscapers-hbo-true-story ‘Landscapers’: The True Story Behind HBO’s Surreal Crime Series


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