‘Life on Mars’ star leads BBC’s new ’70s true crime drama ‘Steeltown Murders’

A new BBC series from the makers of The Pembrokeshire Murders has begun filming in Wales.

Written by Manhunt creator Ed Whitmore, Steeltown Murders will be set in both the 1970s and early 2000s.

The four-part factual drama focuses on the hunt to catch the killer of three young women in the Port Talbot area, and the remarkable story of how – in the first case of its kind – the mystery was solved almost thirty years later using pioneering DNA evidence.

Leading the cast are Philip Glenister (Life On Mars, Belgravia) and Steffan Rhodri (In My Skin, Gavin & Stacey).

Glenister commented: “Ed’s scripts are a poignant and compelling read, balancing the tragic events alongside the revolutionary advances in DNA profiling which were crucial in this case and many others since. I’m also very happy to be part of a production filmed in south Wales where I have my own family connections.”

The younger versions of their characters, DCI Paul Bethell and Phil ‘Bach’ Rees, will be played by Scott Arthur (Good Omens) and Siôn Alun Davies (The Sandman).

They’ll be joined by Keith Allen (Marcella), Priyanga Burford (No Time to Die), Sharon Morgan (Gangs of London), Nia Roberts (Red Rose), Elinor Crawley (Vikings), Gareth John Bale (35 Awr), Kriss Dosanjh (The Larkins), Matthew Gravelle (Broadchurch), Amy Morgan (Mr Selfridge), and Dyfan Dwyfor (A Very English Scandal).

Described as “a portrait of a town dealing with the repercussions of an unsolved case three decades on,” Steeltown Murders will explore the contrast of the policing methods of the 1970s with the forensic breakthroughs of the early noughties.

The Pembrokeshire Murders was an acclaimed hit for ITV back in 2020, so the story of this tragic case is in safe hands.

Steeltown Murders writer Ed Whitmore said: “I was drawn to this tragic true story because it’s ultimately as much about the scarring effects of an unsolved crime on a community as it is the crime itself. The narrative unfolds on two timelines – 1973 and 2002 – and the chance to chart the interweaving lives of our characters across this epic canvas is quite simply a gift to a dramatist.”

Whitmore has previously written episodes of Silent Witness, Waking the Dead, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Safe House, and Rillington Place.

Executive producer Ed Talfan has offered reassurance that the real life events will be handled respectively: “The most important aspect of this project is remembering that the events of 1973 are still fresh in the minds of many people. Ed Whitmore and Marc Evans have worked on a number of challenging fact-based dramas and are working closely with our incredible cast and crew to bring this true story to the screen.”

Rebecca Ferguson, Commissioning Editor for BBC Drama added: “Steeltown Murders is an important account of the events that affected a Welsh community in 1973. The series explores the very nature of justice and what it means to live on in the shadow of such brutal tragedy.”

Steeltown Murders will premiere in the UK on BBC One and streaming on BBC iPlayer in 2023.

The Pembrokeshire Murders is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.