Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Bletchley Circle

(UK, 2012)

If you know much about World War II, you will have heard of Bletchley Park, the old stone pile where Great Britain gathered her finest minds to crack the Nazi Enigma code machine, among other intelligence assignments. They were an odd lot: linguists, chess champions, crossword experts, and mathematicians. The best known is probably Alan Turing. (Who the UK treated shamefully after the war, arresting him for homosexuality, forcing him to undergo chemical castration with hormone “therapy,” and finally driving him to suicide. But that’s another story.)

Behind all these male geniuses was a cadre of mostly young women who analyzed vast amounts of data, looking for patterns. They were totally wrapped up in their work, but when the war was over, they were cashiered, told to go home and become housewives, like thousands and thousands of Rosie the Riveters. Oh, and by the way, you will never be allowed to talk about what you did in the war. Top Secret, don’t you know.

This TV series is about four of the women, nine years later, chafing to various degrees because their formidable brains are not finding much challenge in sweeping up, cooking, and changing nappies. There is a serial killer on the loose, and one of them, played by Anna Maxwell Martin, gathers the others together to find him and bring him to justice. Naturally, the police have trouble taking them seriously. It’s a sweet set-up, and well-written, thought out, and acted. We have seen and enjoyed the three episodes of the first series, and are looking forward to the following set of two two-parters.