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Respectable dentist Colin Howell (James Nesbitt) teams up with Sunday school teacher Hazel Buchanan  (Genevieve O'Reilly) to commit double murder - based on a real life story.


The Secret - ITV Drama
Stuart Urban - Writer and Executive Producer

No 4 Netflix UK, Summer 2022


Nominated for BAFTA Best Miniseries 2017"The Secret"
James Nesbitt and Genevieve O'Reilly


Kevin O'Sullivan

Makes for spellbinding, haunting and very uncomfortable telly…Powerful drama…uniquely watchable”. 

The real achievement of Stuart Urban’s superb script was in capturing the weird balance of religious devotion and sexual obsession that seemed to normalise the relationship in Howell and Buchanan’s minds…‘The Secret’ was masterly, an excellent reason to say in on Friday nights to come”

Mark Lawson

Startling….resembles a darkly comic Ulster version of ‘The Affair’, should give…ITV a hit for viewers who find ‘The Durrells’ too twee. Compelling…confirms (N Ireland) as a powerhouse of TV drama.


Gerard O’Donovan


“I can’t remember a better portrayal of suburban charm hiding suburban evil…it’s hard to create suspense when you already know the ending. But in this case…it was still a nail-biter”. Matt Rudd.



“A terrific dramatisation…I have watched ahead and it only gets better…truly chilling...there being nothing quite so terrifying as a man convinced of his own righteousness”. Euan Ferguson.



“Told with passion and power...the sort of tale we’ve seen many times before, yet what made ‘The Secret’ so interesting was the way Stuart Urban’s smart script dealt with it…Urban sensitively depicted a close-knit community where religion was central”. Sarah Hughes.



“Judy and I watched The Secret utterly transfixed… superbly and sensitively made. ITV were entitled to make (it)…programmes as well made as this demonstrate the profound evil into which men and women can sink”.



“A scarily excellent dramatisation”. Jack Eagle.



The Secret is astounding. Urban, Murphy, Nesbitt, O'Reilly are just absurdly good.




THE GUARDIAN  “Gripping…unswitchoffable”.


THE OBSERVER “Brilliant…a tour de force”.


THE TIMES “A superior 4-parter...Superb”. TV choice.


SUNDAY TELEGRAPH “Terrifically gripping” TV choice.


DAILY EXPRESS **** “A true story that will set your teeth on edge”.


DAILY TELEGRAPH “Meaty, terrific 4-parter. Stuart Urban’s script ekes out every ounce of passion, hypocrisy and self-delusion in the situation”.


THE SUN “Cancel all your plans for the 4 Friday nights…this addictive drama is about to hook you in and won’t let go”.


DAILY MAIL **** “Gripping…paints a chillingly convincing portrait of a killer.”


DAILY MIRROR “We’ve known the outcome all along…but this doesn’t make it any less gripping…impossible to tear your eyes away”.


SUNDAY EXPRESS “Gripping drama”. Pick of the Week.


THE I “Superior 4-parter. Stuart Urban’s script deftly captures how the couple used their religious beliefs to justify their actions. Sound familiar?” Critic’s Choice.


TOTAL TV Guide “Don’t Miss”.




SATURDAY LIVE BBC RADIO 4 (Richard Coles) “A kind of Shakespearean drama of passion and repentance, really powerful and deep”.


RADIO TIMES “Does a smooth job of making grueling events believable….that’s one of the best things in Stuart Urban’s script – a sense of how important religion, being part of “a flock” is….a calm morality tale”. Pick of the Day.


THE STANDARD “Gripping”.


TV TIMES **** “A gripping 4-parter”.


FINANCIAL TIMES **** “Corrosive, obsessive”.




BROADCAST MAGAZINE “The Secret stormed into the schedules…Across its four parts, Hat Trick’s tense thriller clinched a series average of 4m (20%) to eclipse the (ITV) slot average of 3.2m (15%).” It took the No 1 slot in 3 out of its 4 nights. It charted in the top 3 of Consolidated Ratings with up to 39% viewing as catch-up/record.


The programme was in the top 4 UK Twitter trends in its last week.


Extensive press coverage from the qualities to the red tops included, for example, 12 articles in The Daily Mirror alone.

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