7 British True Crime Documentaries You Won't Want To Believe Happened In The UK
It's been slim pickings to appease British true crime fans looking for cases within the UK — the majority of those coming out have just been reporting on crimes in America. But that's now changing. If you're interested in some terrifying tales based on real events that took place in Great Britain, you've come to the right place because here, I've put together a list containing all of the best British true crime documentaries available to stream right now.
There's definitely something about the darker side of humanity that is appealing to audiences — but what is it? Criminologist Scott A. Bonn has suggested that it's all do with science. "People receive a jolt of adrenaline as a reward for witnessing the terrible deeds of a serial killer," he wrote in an article for Psychology Today. "The euphoric effect of serial killers on human emotions is similar to that of roller coasters or natural disasters." Bonn also claimed that audiences enjoy playing the fun role of "armchair detective."
If that sounds familiar and you are now looking for your next true crime-based adrenaline rush from a story set within the UK, then do read on. These programmes come hot on the heels of shows like Making a Murderer and The Jinx, and have had viewers watching with bated breath as these grisly real life stories takeover their screens.
1. 'The Investigator: A British Crime Story'
This series is presented by former detective Mark Williams-Thomas, who directed the ITV documentary which, as the Guardian reported, kickstarted the unmasking of Jimmy Savile.
In this series, he digs into the unsolved case of a missing woman, Carole Packman, who disappeared in 1985. Her husband was convicted of the murder, but 30 years later, her body has still not been found. "In all my years as an investigator, I've never had a case like this," Williams-Thomas said. "As I look into this complex true story, I find twists at every turn."
This one will have you guessing until the end.
2. 'Manchester's Serial Killer?'
In the past six years, the remains of 80 people have been found in Manchester's canals, with the victims largely being male. The Manchester Evening News has previously raised the possibility of there being a "Manchester Pusher", and this documentary investigates these persistent rumours.
Back in 2015, Greater Manchester police stated there is no evidence for a serial killer, however the Manchester Evening News has reported that some families of the victims believe otherwise. Make up your own mind by tuning in.
3. 'How Police Missed The Grindr Killer'
How Police Missed The Grindr Killer focuses on the horrifying case of Stephen Port, who drugged, raped, and murdered four men in 2014. Port was convicted of the killings in 2016, receiving a whole-life prison sentence. The documentary zooms in on the alleged police failings for not properly examining the evidence, such as investigating disturbing material found on Port's computer. An enquiry into police conduct is still underway, with the Metropolitan Police saying it would be "inappropriate to comment," but the BBC reports that the forthcoming dossier is expected to be "damning." In the documentary trailer, one of the victim's mothers claims that she believes it was institutional homophobia that led to many of these oversights.
4. 'Mystery Of The Man On The Moor'
The "Saddleworth Moor mystery man" was the name given by the press to the originally unidentifiable body of a man after he was found on the Pennines in 2015. Last seen asking for directions to a local beauty spot on top of the moorlands, the victim's body was found the next day with high levels of the poison strychnine in his blood, but his identity was only discovered 13 months into the case. Channel 4's gripping documentary explores the strange circumstances surrounding his death.
5. 'Ill Gotten Gains'
Ill Gotten Gains is an unusual true crime premise, as it's centred around regional organised crime units and police forces. The documentary, presented by Angellica Bell and Rav Wilding (pictured), looks at how police units seize criminal assets and sell them at auction as means of taking down organised crime. The first episode features a drug raid on a family yacht that finds cocaine to the estimated street value of £120 million hidden aboard — it makes for fascinating watch.
6. 'Sex, Drugs & Murders'
Sex, Drugs & Murders offers a candid look at the lives of sex workers in this town, who face issues such as drug addiction and domestic abuse.
The documentary is set in Holbeck, an area in Leeds dubbed by Vice as the UK's first legal red light district, on account of an ongoing Leeds City Council initiative, under which prostitutes can work in certain areas without fear of arrest — as long as it's within designated hours and they abide by certain rules.
7. 'The Murder Of Sadie Hartley'
Truth is very occasionally stranger than fiction, but this was very much the case in the murder of Sadie Hartley. She was a business woman in Chester who was viciously killed by her husband's former lover Sarah Williams and her accomplice Katrina Walsh. The pair were convicted in 2016 of the meticulously planned attack, which was some 18 months in the making. The documentary details the extreme lengths the pair went to in order to get away with what they dubbed "the perfect murder."
The programmes on this list are sure to have you pulling together the pieces, hiding behind the sofa, and shouting at the TV. And there are undoubtedly more where they came from too as the true crime trend isn't going away anytime soon.