ITV confirms new true crime drama based on The Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe

ITV has announced a new true crime drama series, The Yorkshire Ripper, depicting one of the most notorious and shocking serial killer cases in the world.

Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 2:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 2:18 pm
Between October 1975 and January 1981, police undertook the biggest manhunt in British criminal history. The search for Sutcliffe lasted five years, involved over a thousand officers and changed the way the British police worked forever.
Between October 1975 and January 1981, police undertook the biggest manhunt in British criminal history. The search for Sutcliffe lasted five years, involved over a thousand officers and changed the way the British police worked forever.

Off the back of their highly-acclaimed shows White House Farm - based on the Bamber family bloodbath in Essex, 1985 - and Des - the story of Dennis Nilson's killings between 1978 and 1983 in London - the channel will tell the story of Peter Sutcliffe.

The drama will depict one of the most notorious and shocking serial killer cases in the world, the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe, dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper.

Between October 1975 and January 1981, police undertook the biggest manhunt in British criminal history. The search for Sutcliffe lasted five years, involved over a thousand officers and changed the way the British police worked forever.

Six of the young women murdered by Peter Sutcliffe. Top left to right; Vera Millward, Jayne MacDonald, Josephine Whittaker and bottom left to right; Jean Royle, Helga Rytka and Barbara Leach.

Written by acclaimed screenwriter George Kay, The Yorkshire Ripper is a true crime drama which will follow the desperate, cat and mouse hunt for Sutcliffe focusing upon the police investigation and the lives of the victims who fatally crossed his path.

ITV’s Head of Drama Polly Hill said: "This promises to be a definitive look at this infamous case, and will be sensitively dramatised for ITV by this formidable team, who have a proven track record in bringing these true stories to screen.”

Meticulously researched and drawing upon the most extensive archive of the investigation, comprising of hundreds of case files, interview transcripts and police reports, The Yorkshire Ripper will be the first definitive account of a case that shook Britain.

Based upon Michael Bilton’s highly praised book, Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, George Kay’s scripts will focus on the lives of the Sutcliffe’s victims, the loved ones they left behind, and the everlasting toll the investigation took on the detectives who led the investigation.

Police leading murderer Peter Sutcliffe into Dewsbury Court under a blanket.

What began as a series of murders on sex workers in Leeds, soon spread across the whole of the North of England, to women of all backgrounds, living in all different neighbourhoods.

In all, Sutcliffe killed 13, and attempted to kill seven others. By the late 1970s, Sutcliffe had terrorised Britain creating a national obsession of finding out the killer’s true identity.

He was finally caught in 1981 and was sentenced to 20 concurrent sentences of life imprisonment.

One murder has the power to cast a long shadow with the case plunging a whole society into darkness. For every victim, there are friends and loved ones. For every police officer, there is the burden of failure - of near misses and guilt - the knowledge that as they fail to find their man, more women continue to suffer.

The impact on the lives of those who live on after the deaths of their loved ones. Those would cannot escape what happened, who let it affect them into adulthood or the decades after facing their own life sentences.

The focus is on those lives and losses of many more.