ITV has announced a drama on the Yorkshire Ripper – saying it will put victims, their families and survivors “at the heart” of the story.
The six-part series will depict the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe, which began in 1975, lasted several years and involved more than 1,000 officers. It “will focus on the lives” of his victims, “the loved ones they left behind, and the everlasting toll the investigation took on the detectives”, the broadcaster said.
The commission follows the success of its other true-crime dramas Des and White House Farm.It follows the success of Des starring David Tennant (ITV)
The Yorkshire Ripper (the working title) will draw upon hundreds of case files, interview transcripts and police reports in an investigation archive.
Screenwriter George Kay said: “In a story full with eye-watering statistics, one for me has always stood out – Peter Sutcliffe rendered 23 children motherless.
“That one fact in itself demands that any definitive drama about this case should encompass far more than just the story of a police investigation. “We will focus not just on the police … but the victims, their families, those who were attacked but not believed, those who whose lives were permanently changed.
“This is not the story of a Ripper who hailed from Yorkshire, but the story of how Yorkshire was ripped apart.”This is a vital story about class prejudice, pervasive and entrenched societal sexism
The drama has been commissioned from the same producers as Des – starring David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen and – White House Farm, based on the notorious murders of the same name.Sutcliffe is serving 20 life terms for murdering 13 women and attempting to kill seven more. Most of his victims were sex workers who were mutilated and beaten to death.
The broadcaster’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.”
Executive producer Paul Whittington said: “By placing the victims, their families and the survivors at the heart of this story, George has crafted an excavation of British social history that goes far beyond the infamy. “His writing sensitively reveals and humanises the untold number of lives devastated by these crimes, and powerfully exposes the enduring legacy of the failings of the biggest manhunt in British criminal history.
“This is a vital story about class prejudice, pervasive and entrenched societal sexism and women simply not being heard that still has relevance today.”
The drama will be based on Michael Bilton’s book Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.