THE SCAPEGOAT. ITV, UK, 09 September 2012. Made for TV movie. Matthew Rhys, Eileen Atkins, Alice Orr-Ewing, Andrew Scott, heridan Smith, Jodhi May, Eloise Webb, Sylvie Testud, Pip Torrens, Phoebe Nicholls. Based on the novel by Dapne du Maurier. Written and directed by Charles Sturridge. Previous filmed in 1959, starring Alec Guinness.

   You have to watch this one with a serious sense of willing disbelief, but if you can, you will enjoy this one as much as I did. Two men, one a schoolmaster who’s just been let go, and another who is outwardly a man of some wealth and power, discover that they are exact lookalikes. So much so, that the latter of the two swaps clothes and belongings, and heads out to parts unknown.

   Leaving the former no choice but to take the other’s place, complete withe family mansion, wife and daughter, a bedridden mother, a younger brother and sister, the brother’s wife (who he has been dallying with), a mistress (who he has obviously also been dallying with) and the usual assortment of servants.

   Not one of them notices that he is not he, if you see what I mean, even though he is at an obvious disadvantage. He doesn’t know any of them, no the house, the room, his responsibilities as the male head of the family. He catches on very quickly, though, even faster than I would — or in fact, faster than I did.

   What’s also remarkable he comes to care, if not love, all of them, and he soon settles in to handle their affairs for them far better than the man he is posing as ever did. Set at the time of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, this is a film filled with not only fine acting, but charm and heart. (The ending , I am told, differs from that of the book. If so, I think the ending of the movie is better.)

   There is a small but crucial bit of a murder plot involved as well. When the absentee owner of the house sneaks back in and sees how well his imposter has worked his way into his home, he decides to take advantage of it in a most deadly fashion, a plot however, that is most capably foiled.