Deadwater Valley on Channel 4.

Deadwater Fell episode 1: did Kate really start the fatal fire?

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Deadwater Fell is the chilling new crime drama on Channel 4 starring David Tennant. After watching the first episode, these are the biggest questions we have about the show so far.

January TV is here, which means there are plenty of excuses to curl up on the sofa while watching top new dramas, reality series and documentaries.

Deadwater Fell is Channel 4’s new crime drama about a small community that is shattered by the aftermath of a house fire. It follows the story of Tom (David Tennant), whose wife Kate (Anna Madeley) and their three children die in a house fire. After Tom survives the tragedy, suspicion falls on Tom. But did he really murder his own family? And if not, who did?

The first episode of the four-part drama aired tonight (10 January), and we already have so many other big questions. Join us as we try and work out what the hell is happening and why.

Where is Deadwater Fell filmed?

This charming, idyllic Scottish village is enough to make any Londoner want to run for the hills. Everybody is just so nice to each other in the fictional setting of Kirkdarroch. A lot of the filming took place in the East Ayrshire village of Dunlop and Kilbarchanin in Renfrewshire. The beach scene was filmed at Culzean Beach, if you fancy taking a windy but beautiful trip there.

Anyway, it turns out that not all the residents are totally pleasant, as someone is about to commit arson…

Was there really a burglar?

Before realising that Tom and Kate’s house is on fire, their neighbour and good friend Jess is putting her step-son back to bed. He woke her up in the middle of the night, telling her there was a burglar in the house. Was he telling her the truth? If so, is the “burglar” linked to the fire? And why does no one ever listen to the kids in these situations?

Deadwater Fell
Deadwater Fell: Anna Madeley and David Tennant.

Why did the girls have pine needles in their feet?

The autopsy on Kate and the three girls shows they had pine needles all over their feet. It also finds injection marks in all of their arms, but we need to wait for a toxicology report to show what they were injected with. How did the pine needles get there if the bodies were inside? And what were they injected with?

Was Kate depressed?

Some might assume, after the first episode, that Kate is the main suspect for the fire and murder. She was taking anti-depressants, had a bad history with alcohol, and argued with Tom at family gatherings. She was also in a car crash with her kids and Jess (although we’re not shown what happened after this). From what the local doctor says, she was suffering depression, which definitely feeds into the storyline – but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s the killer. However…

Did Kate padlock her children’s door?

When detectives visit the burnt down house, they are horrified to find that the girls’ bedroom door was locked with a padlock from the inside. Policeman Steve – who was friends with Kate – sees CCTV footage of her buying a padlock. Although this points the finger of blame at her, there must be something else to it.

Did Jess and Tom have an affair?

Ah, yes. We see teacher Jess – who is currently undergoing IVF with her husband Steve – having sex with Tom in a flashback. But how long ago did this happen? And was it an ongoing affair or a one-off romp? Again, we have a feeling this is going to be an integral part of the storyline and motive. 

Who started the fire?

When Tom wakes up in the hospital, the first thing he asks is what has Kate done. Does he really think it was her? Is he covering his own tracks? Did one of the villagers do it? Was it the head-teacher who got drunk at the gathering? Was it Steve the policeman? Was it Jess the teacher? Everybody in this twee village is a suspect, and we’ve got a feeling we won’t find out who until the very end of the series. 

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Images: Channel 4

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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