ITV orders true crime drama ‘The Yorkshire Ripper’ from the makers of ‘Des’

The producers of Des and White House Farm are working on a new true crime drama for ITV.

Made by New Pictures, Des and White House Farm were both huge hits with audiences and critics when they aired in the UK earlier this year.

ITV’s Head of Drama has now commissioned The Yorkshire Ripper from the same team.

The mini-series 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.

The six-part drama 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.

Executive producer Willow Grylls commented: “George Kay’s beautifully nuanced scripts shines a light on a case that defined the second half of the twentieth century and continues to cast a long shadow.”

Polly Hill, ITV’s Head of Drama, added: “I am delighted to be working with Willow and Paul again, after they made the brilliant White House Farm. 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.”

The Yorkshire Ripper will be “meticulously researched … drawing upon the most extensive archive of the investigation, comprising of hundreds of case files, interview transcripts and police reports.”

George Kay’s scripts will be based upon Michael Bilton’s book, Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.

The official synopsis reads: “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 thirteen, 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.”

Written by George Kay (Criminal) and directed by Paul Whittington (The Moorside, The Crown), The Yorkshire Ripper is expected to air on ITV in 2021.

Director Paul Whittington revealed: “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.”

Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper is available on Amazon.