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State of Play (2003)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Episode 3, BBC1, tx. 1/6/2003

Herald journalist Cal McCaffrey has been arrested for refusing to reveal who gave him a briefcase apparently proving that political researcher Sonia Baker was the victim of a professional killer. Interrogated by DCI Bell, Cal is contemptuous of the suggestion that Sonia's boss and lover - and Cal's friend - MP Stephen Collins, is a suspect. Cal uses his one phone call to ring Anne Collins, Stephen's wife, with whom he has begun a secret affair.

Cal's colleague, Della, realises she has become a target for Sonia's killer, and is angry with Cal for obstructing the police. Cal suggests that the police publicise his arrest to get the hitman to come after him instead of Della. Bell agrees, but arranges for a decoy for Della. Cal is released with a bodyguard.

Collins is questioned by DI Bell about his relationship with Sonia. He becomes angry when Bell suggests that he was responsible for large monthly cash payments to Sonia. Meanwhile, The Herald learns that Sonia celebrated her job with Collins weeks before she actually got it, suggesting that Collins lied about the circumstances of her employment. It also emerges, however, that Sonia had a sexual history with Dominic Foy, the last person to speak to Sonia alive. To Cal, Collins insists he told the truth.

Cal visits Anne at her hotel, and the two are in bed when disturbed by the hitman, who has evaded Sgt 'Chewy' Cheweski, Cal's police minder. The hitman flees, with Chewy following, but turns the tables on his pursuer until he is shot dead by police marksmen, to Bell's annoyance.

Herald editor Cameron discovers Cal's affair and is livid, suggesting Cal finds other employment. Later, Stephen also finds out and confronts the couple. Meanwhile, in return for information about Dominic Foy, Bell tells Della the identity of the hitman - Robert Bingham, an ex-soldier turned security contractor. He also tells her that the autopsy of Kelvin Stagg - a petty thief killed by Bingham for stealing the vital briefcase - revealed him as a drug user, contradicting The Herald's own information. The Stagg family blames Cal for failing to restore Kelvin's reputation.

The Herald agrees to share information about Dominic Foy with the police, in return for the chance to interview him first. Following a tip-off from Chewy, Cal, Della and colleague Dan intercept Foy at Heathrow and convince him to talk.