Murdoch Mysteries: Thomas Craig talks “Secrets and Lies”

Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched the “Secrets and Lies” episode of Murdoch Mysteries.

After so many seasons on the air, showrunner Peter Mitchell can still catch me off guard. I was left speechless after Monday’s latest episode for a couple of reasons. First, we learned a lot about Thomas Brackenreid. A treasure trove of information about his past that included another woman and the daughter he didn’t know he had. And second, the result of Thomas’ past has thrown his future with Margaret into serious doubt.

Will the couple reunite? What was going through Thomas Craig’s mind when he read the script that unveiled Brackenreid’s backstory? I shot an email to Thomas Craig to ask that, and more, to him in London, where he’s performing in the play Soldier On by Jonathan Lewis.

This season of Murdoch Mysteries has been very entertaining, from creative murders in the potato cooking room to the Higgins-Newsome wedding and the Halloween episode. What’s your take on the scripts for Season 12 so far?
Thomas Craig: The episodes this year have been the usual mix of serious and slightly absurd which I think is the charm of the show, because it’s a bit of something for everyone.

What were your thoughts when you learned “Secrets and Lies” would focus most of its storyline on Inspector Brackenreid? You must have been excited.
TC: I was pleased to learn more about Brackenreid’s previous life even though him being confronted with a daughter he was unaware of was something I wasn’t quite expecting.

I was shocked when Thomas said, “I think our daughter is still alive.” What was your reaction to Peter Mitchell when you read that?
TC: I think Peter always tries to throw a bit of a curveball at the audience, so I’m never really shocked at anything he comes up with.

We’ve gotten hints at Thomas’ backstory over the years, but this one was a surprise. A daughter with another woman. Did Peter Mitchell ever give you an indication before this season that this was part of the Brackenreid history?
TC: I was never told anything about this storyline pre-shoot, but I don’t really want to know too far in advance—I like to be as surprised as anybody else.

It’s not often that we see Thomas really open his heart up. As an actor, this script must have made you happy. You’re getting to explore and show another side to this man, a side viewers have only gotten the odd glimpse of.
TC: It’s always good as an actor to explore different emotions and be put into situations that are not the norm for your character.

Leslie Hope has directed several episodes of Murdoch Mysteries over the years. What does she bring to the table as a director?
TC: My favourite directors, whether it is in TV or theatre, are always actors who direct, so for that reason I love working with Leslie. Plus, she brings so much energy and enthusiasm to the set.

It’s interesting to me how Brackenreid has softened his world views over the seasons. He’s become more accepting of many lifestyles.
TC: Brackenreid has had to evolve and become slightly more tolerant and accepting—working with Murdoch over 11 years would rub off on anybody.

Your scenes with Raven as Sarah were wonderfully touching and emotional. What was it like working with her?
TC: Raven was wonderful to work with—I felt I’d known her a long time, she was so easy and laid back. It was a really lovely week we spent together in St. Marys.

By the end of the episode, Margaret had asked Thomas to leave. Can this rift be mended before the end of Season 12?
TC: You’ll have to watch and see how things play out over the second half of the season, but it is certainly a difficult situation the Brackenreid family has found themselves in.

Murdoch Mysteries returns Monday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
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21 thoughts on “Murdoch Mysteries: Thomas Craig talks “Secrets and Lies””

  1. What’s next? Will all the usual gang have their own “one man show” specials? Will Crabtree have to go back to his home town and run his “aunty’s” business? Will Higgins have to setup a new money making scheme with his wife to replace her lost fortune? After 12 years, there mustn’t be many fresh crime tales to tell.

  2. What happens to the promise of a Murdoch-Ogden crime solving team? by the wayside now? I have always loved the other characters as part of the ensemble working around the power couple of Murdoch and Ogden, but not, as Andrew puts it, as a “one man show” each. Ogden did not even put in an appearance in this one. I always liked Brackenreid but not to the point of caring to learn about his past (same as for Watts). Not much of an incentive to continue watching the show if such a trend is the way it is going. Hélène Joy is a talented actress I’m sure she can do better than just having her name shown in the credits.

  3. Noele Fillius, I missed Julia too, but if the ensemble; William, Julia, Brack and George (don’t consider anyone else a part of the main group) each gets a show about their backstory, I’d love to see it. I want to know more about every one of them, when they were kids, their parents, their love life, work, relationships (all kinds). With 11 yrs worth of storylines, there’s so much character history the writer’s can explore. I like the mystery part of MM, but I love the character driven part even more. So, as much as I missed seeing Julia, I’m so excited to see what her episode or ‘secret/lie’ will be. And what I’d love to see even more is William and Julia’s shared past explored, even going back to earlier seasons. S2, What did William say to Julia in the hot air balloon ride? S6, At the Queens Hotel, what did they talk about, or do after playing dominoes? To me, that’s be really interesting!

    1. Crystal, we each look for different things in a show, but understandably the writers cannot cover all the details. A lot is left to our imagination. A book or books could cover more of what you are looking for because books always contain much more details. Watts, for instance, is a fairly recent character and not (yet) a regular one. Why do we need to find out about his past? Some of it was already covered in the episode where he found his sister, then in the episode where he found out he had a Jewish background. We can find out about the main characters like Brackenreid, George, Higgins, in the course of the episodes without digging too deep. Murdoch is already the focus of every episode. Even when a recent episode was centered around Julia, it was not exclusive of the other characters. We found out about her and her past in the course of different episodes not in an exclusive one. Her talents are under utilized. In some episodes some characters are absent because of personal or professional reasons. The show runners should stick to the original format of the show if they want to keep up the interest of the majority of the viewers. My humble opinion.

      1. I agree that “The show runners should stick to the original format of the show”, in terms of showing the main four and covering their backstory… William, Julia, Brack and George are the only characters that I like to see have the main focus of each show. I actually wrote a letter to Peter Mitchell telling him that the show has too many characters since S9; Nina, Louise, Marylyn Clark, Ruth, Watts and even put more focus on Henry, John and Margaret. I told PM that I hoped Louise would get murdered, because that be the most interesting story with her in it. I also said that I didn’t like that H, J and M were getting more screen time. The point that I was trying to make with you was that, if this season is doing something a bit ‘Fresh’, by having episodes that give more of a backstory to the main four, then I’m ok with that. Watts is an okay character but yeah, I could’ve done without an ALL Watts episode. Basically, I don’t think the writer’s will be doing these kinds of episodes in S13 (fingers crossed). And you’re right about books covering a lot more detail, and I guess that’s why I’m a writer, though not yet published because… Anyway, looking forward to the rest of the season and Hopefully, we will both love it.

  4. Thought it was a brilliant story and so beautifully portrayed by all sure Margaret had a shock so did Thomas but it was all before they met she will think rationally and come around .she must we need the Brackenreids .Murdoch Mysteries for ever Cheers from Australia

  5. My husband and I really enjoyed the Secrets and Lies episode. Thomas showed such depth and true emotion. This is the second time he has nearly brought me to tears. The first was years earlier when Bobby was kidnapped. Wonderful story. I hope Margaret forgives him. They truly belong together

  6. I must be missing the point of the show, I thought it was about Murdoch and Ogden working together solving crime with the help of an ensemble of secondary characters, not about the lives of these characters however fascinating they might be to some. Perhaps there will be other such focuses that have nothing to do with the main storyline on which the show is based. Perhaps on Crabtree coming to the aid of one of his many aunts named after flowers who is also in trouble. Those of us who do not like the direction the show is taking can just stop watching.

    1. It’s always been about the ensemble from the beginning.
      That’s the charm and those four characters, from the original books by Maureen Jennings, is how the show was formulated. Since then they’ve expanded the recurring cast but it still remains a show featuring the foursome

  7. Crystal, not sure many people share our view about the focus on secondary characters but good for you expressing yours directly to Peter Mitchell

  8. Really enjoyed the Brackenreid-centered episode, as Mr. Craig may be the most talented actor on the program.
    As much as I enjoy the standard crime-solving episodes, it pains me greatly to admit that they have run out of ideas for Julia Ogden. This isn’t the fault of the actress, but rather the indifference in her scripts from the earlier seasons. Have you ever gone back to do a rewatch of the older seasons? I never noticed before, but Julia can be downright insufferable in her flip-flopping between modern career woman and clueless waif cowering behind William. They rectified this greatly in later seasons, but by then, much of the creativity present in early seasons had already been spent.
    Most egregious in this schizophrenic Ogden plotting is the two-parter of “Crimes and Punishment”. Julia spends an entire episode cluelessly believing nothing is wrong, resulting even in William having a “wake up and see the risk you are in” moment with her. Still, she sallies forward with odd smiles and aloof commentary, until she finally wakes up as the judge sentences her to death…. her reaction? “Oh William do something!” QED.

    So yes, more Brackenreid. More serious plotting of adult storylines, and not saccharine teenager moralizing. Three cheers for the writers of “Secrets and Lies”.

    1. In Crime and Punishment, Julia was indeed ‘clueless’ and rightly so. She had no idea about what was being plotted and by whom. She fiercely believed in her innocence as it is often the case with innocent people who doggedly stand their ground. This is a very appropriate scenario. Julia has always been portrayed as a determined, stubborn woman. She had to be to survive in a male dominated period. I have always been OK with that, some may not be.
      As to the ‘Brackenreid-centered’ episode, this is certainly the way things are headed, along with the Watts-centered episodes. Then it can go on to Crabtree-centered episodes and Henry Higgins centered episodes, and so on. Then for sure while Murdoch will always be front and centre, Julia falls by the wayside turning into a good wife and soon a homemaker like Mrs Brackenreid, to the delight of some fans and the dismay of people like me.

      The morgue and the asylum held endless possibilities for the character, but perhaps the writers are running out of ideas for her, this is obvious considering that they now have chosen a new career for her into the field of surgery. If such is the case, why dangle the idea of a “power crime solving couple” just to drop it. there are plenty of shows where Hélène would excel other than as a secondary character.

  9. I wish that they would bring back Ruby Ogden; I think that she is more interesting than her sister. Ruby also had a good rapport with George. She might be a better match for him than the departed Nina.

    1. I too would like to see Ruby Ogden back. I guess it would depend on the actress’s schedule and other work. By design she is more interesting but both characters have different personality. They make a nice contrast. It would be nice if the writers could bring her back.

  10. I never want this show to end. I’m a faithful watcher and look so forward to seeing each week. I love the whole cast and so Glad William and Julia ended up together to me that is where they belong. They both have over come so much in that show and their love for one another always showed how much the cared and looked after one another. Now we need to get George a woman lol. But continue on one of greatest show’s on TV love you all!

        1. At least Evil Eva didn’t get him. I had hoped for a different ending for Eva Pearce, perhaps as a murder victim herself or else caught committing crimes with someone even more evil than herself. A nasty story, but not as farfetched as her demise in “Cometh the Archer” and her ghostly appearance in “Great Balls of Fire.” I really wanted to see her brought to justice, and probably hanged.

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