Stephen Merchant and Sheridan Smith star in the brand new BBC crime drama Four Lives, a mini-series described as “utterly harrowing.” It tells the story of four men who were tragically murdered in London and the deeply flawed police investigation that followed. Four Lives is told from the perspective of the victims’ family and friends, but is the new drama based on a real story?
Sadly, yes, Four Lives is based on a very real tragedy that took place not too long ago. You may be familiar with the media-dubbed “Grindr Killer” and the murders that took place over 2014 and 2015. Four young men — Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, and Jack Taylor — were raped and drugged by now-convicted murderer Stephen Port after he lured them to his flat in Barking, East London.
Port, 46, was convicted in 2016 and is currently serving a life sentence for his crimes, meaning he will die behind bars. As Pink News reported, the Essex-born murderer had multiple sexual assault victims and used the dating app Grindr to seek out young gay men, before bringing them back to his apartment for sex.
Seven years after the tragedies, a ten-week inquest into the four deaths only concluded this December. Per BBC, the jury ruled that “failings by the Met Police contributed to the deaths of Port's final three victims”. It’s understood that the Metropolitan Police initially treated the deaths as non-suspicious, despite their glaring similarities (bodies were found in the same location in Barking), until the fourth man died in the same area near Port’s residence.
Ahead of the inquest, the families’ lawyer Neil Hudgens said, per Pink News, that the families have always wondered “whether there would have been a different outcome if the police had investigated Port properly and taken their concerns seriously, and if their boys hadn’t been gay.”
“For them, the inquests mark a key step in their quest for accountability,” the lawyer added.
Despite police failings, Walgate, Kovari, Whitworth, and Taylor’s families and friends worked to find out what happened to them. This will be portrayed in BBC’s Four Lives.
In the gripping trailer, Smith portrays Sarah Sak, the mother of Walgate, while actor Merchant chillingly plays Port. Jaime Winstone, Rufus Jones, Samuel Barnett, Daniel Ryan, and Stephanie Hyam also star.
Four Lives airs on BBC One at 9 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2022, and will be available to stream on iPlayer from that date.