Directed by BAFTA award-winner David Nath and edited by Ben Brown, The Murder Detectives is a docuseries that trails every step of an 18-month police investigation into the fatal stabbing of a Bristol teen.
The 3 x 60-minute series weaves together three underlying stories. The first shadows a team of detectives piecing together the murder of a 19-year-old male, while others follow a family in search of justice while coping with the loss of their child, and another family trying to save their son from incarceration.
The Dispatches: Ready for a Riot and The Trouble with Pirates producer’s track record in taking a creative approach to sensitive and difficult subject matter enabled Bristol police to provide the prodco with intimate and exclusive access.
Discussions between Films of Record and Bristol’s major crime unit for the trilogy of films began six to nine months prior to filming in an attempt to build trust. Then, crews managed to embed themselves into the unfolding stories through various twists and turns, executive producer Neil Grant tells realscreen.
“It was very bold from the outset for us and for [the police service], but they felt that it was important for them to show the process in all of its difficulties and, in so doing, enable the public to have a greater understanding of how hard it is to crack cases such as this,” Grant explained.
By exploring the minds of the detectives vérité style, without commentary, and by following the investigation through multiple viewpoints, Grant and his team aimed to develop an ambitious program that would push the storytelling boundaries of the true crime genre.
“What we didn’t want to do was to break the bubble of the investigation,” Neil says, “but we felt we had a greater responsibility to try a different methodology that would retain the interest of viewers that went beyond traditional documentary.”
Though talks for a follow-up series have already begun between Films of Record and Channel 4, depending on how well The Murder Detectives is received by British audiences, Grant says the series has piqued the interest of domestic and international broadcasters, including unnamed networks in the U.S.
- The Murder Detectives premiers on Monday (November 30) at 9 p.m. GMT, and culminates on December 2.