Residents of Axbridge will spend much of Episode One of the TV adaption of Holly Jackson’s teen whodunnit A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder spotting the streets, houses and pathways of the town that stands in as Little KIlton. I certainly did: there’s Moorland Street, oh and that’s thingamejig’s house and there’s the Church Steps and West Street of course.

Once I’d stopped this slightly anorak activity, the drama based on the young adult novel is spookily atmospheric as Pippa comes up against a wall of silence in her sixth form project to uncover the truth about a murder suicide of five years ago. Much of the drama is away from the Somerset town, with a cornershop in I presumed to be Bristol, a vast pine forest possibly on the Mendips and a frightfully jolly garden party at an undisclosed country house. That particular sequence had Pippa (Emma Myers) and her friend Cara Ward (Asha Banks) dressed as stars in rather itchy costumes as they distributed drinks to the grown up guests in a wonderfully eccentric scene where the two friends’ expressions conveyed all they thought of the tipsy adults. It also gave Pippa a chance to quiz hunky Max Hastings (Henry Ashton) over the night that presumed murdered Andie Bell (India Lillie Davies) went missing – although the bully made her knock back five shots of whisky for the answers. The things girls must do to get the truth.

Briefly, Pippa is not convinced that school girl Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh who then hung himself on that fateful night some years before. With no body and a number of unanswered questions she starts her nerdy but necessary investigation which continues to draw blanks from those who were closest to Andie and Sal – including initially his brother.

The strongest scenes are when Pippa confronts Sal’s brother Ravi (Zain Iqbal) about her conviction that Sal was not the murderer. Initially awkward and lacking in empathy with her first ‘stalker type’ meeting she mellows and when she approaches him after the garden party there are tears in her eyes as she softens and apologises for bringing up the subject. When Ravi shows her Sal’s final text message something sticks out: Sal’s murder confession was written by someone else.

For those who have read the novel the series, the biggest changes made by the writers of the screen play are the way you imagine the characters to look. Since Emma Myers had been widely tipped to be Pippa in the TV series when I read the book I had her firmly in my mind – but Pippa’s mum Leanne and Yali Topol Margalith as Lauren Gibson had me doing a double take. Once I had got over the castings the whole series has the viewer hooked – along with Pippa – in having to piece together the narrative. The young cast in particular naturally slot into character while the adults tended to be more as Pippa sees them – like adults in many children’s novels – caricatures – and frankly a bit dim. Are grown ups really so dumb? Of course they are when you are 17 and still too young to buy cider in the corner shop. But that’s part of the story – as only Pippa is able to see through the silences and rebutals as she pieces together her good girl guide to murder.

Harry Mottram

The series is on BBC iPlayer at


Left to right: Cara (Asha Banks), Pip (Emma Myers), Lauren (Yali Topol Margolith), Zach (Raiko Gohara) and Connor (Jude Collie) walk down a road together
Cara (Asha Banks), Pip (Emma Myers), Lauren (Yali Topol Margolith), Zach (Raiko Gohara) and Connor (Jude Collie) (Image: BBC/Moonage Pictures)

The production company that have made the series are Moonage Pictures who adapted Nancy Mitford’s comic novel The Pursuit of Love into a television series with in this case Poppy Cogan as the lead writer. BBC Studios, who have a minority investment stake in Moonage Pictures, are handling international distribution of the series. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder is a co-production with ZDFneo for Germany.

The series was directed by Dolly Wells from a script that abridges the novel by Poppy Cogan, alongside Zia Ahmed, Ajoke Ibironke and Ruby Thomas. The series will also be screened later this year by Netflix.

The series is based on a trilogy of novels by British author Holly Jackson. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is the first book in the YA mystery series, which became a New York Times bestseller and has sold millions of copies worldwide. That book’s 2019 debut was followed by Good Girl, Bad Blood in 2020 and As Good As Dead in 2021. (There’s also a prequel novella you can read about Pip, Kill Joy,that was also published in 2021.) 

The novel was read by the Axbridge Book Club members – I wrote a review here:

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc

Mobile: 07789 864769