A role to die for

by Mark Lavery A SERIAL killer will face justice at Wakefield's old Crown Court tonight. It has been 10 years since the last case was heard at the imposing old building on Wakefield's Wood Street.

But the clock was turned back earlier this year as filming begab on a new murder drama starring ex-EastEnders lady killer Martin Kemp.

The frontage of the building, which dates back to 1806, doubled up as London's Old Bailey circa 1915 for ITV's period drama, Brides in the Bath, to be screened tonight.

The street was covered in sand for filming, a faded sign identified the imposing court building as the Central Criminal Court, and various props helped take the area back in time. The former Spandau Ballet man also filmed wedding scenes in St John's Square at Wakefield.

The show, penned by Taggart creator Glenn Chandler, is based on the real-life crimes of serial killer George Joseph Smith.

Gallows

Just before the First World War Smith married wealthy women who were considered to have been left on the shelf, then murdered all three of them while they were in the bath. Smith was sentenced to the gallows.

Executive producer David Reynolds said: "Martin Kemp's had an acting history of killing his leading ladies. In Brides in the Bath he'll kill several."

In June a section of Wood Street was shut down for 10 hours to allow scenes to be filmed.

Wakefield's Crown Court was closed in 1994 when its cases were transferred to Leeds and Bradford.

Segafredo Zanetti, which operates a chain of exclusive gourmet coffee bars mainly in Europe, looks set to open a franchise in the building, in spring 2004.

An application to serve alcohol on the premises, including extended opening until 1am, has been approved by licensing magistrates.

A spokesman for Leeds based developer Highland View said it is planned to make the building a regular music and comedy venue. "The kind of entertainment on offer will bear no resemblance to what is currently on offer in Wakefield," he said.

mark.lavery@ypn.co.uk