Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Based on a novel by Minnette Walters, the two-part British miniseries Scold's Bridle began with the death of an ill-tempered old woman named Mathilda Gillespie (Sian Phillips). Found with an antique device known as a scold's bridle (so named because it was designed to "muzzle" sharp-tongued housewives and gossips) locked around her jaws, Mathilda appeared to have committed suicide by asphyxiating herself. But police detective Cooper (Bob Peck) suspected foul play, especially since none of Mathilde's neighbors or relatives could abide the woman's company. The only person on good terms with the dead woman was local doctor Sarah Blakeney (Miranda Richardson) -- who, by a curious coincidence, was named as sole beneficiary in Mathilde's will. Having his doubts about Sarah's good intentions, Cooper decided to reopen his investigation of the old lady's death. In so doing, he discovered that Mathilde's entire family seethed with corruption, as did most of the neighboring clans. Additionally, despite his own better judgment, Cooper found himself attracted to the enigmatic Sarah -- and never mind that she already had a husband, a seemingly affable chap named Jack (Douglas Hodge). The Scold's Bridle was originally aired in 1998, presented in two 75-minute installments by BBC1; the property was rebroadcast in the U.S. in June 1999.