BBC Four commissions documentary on Harold Shipman

The Harold Shipman Files: A Very British Crime Story re-examines the murders committed by the doctor

LONDON - JANUARY 13: (UNDATED FILE PHOTO) Dr Harold Shipman is pictured in this undated Greater Manchester Police file photo. Shipman was found hanging dead in his cell on January 13, 2004, the day before his 58th birthday.  Shipman, nicknamed "Dr. Death" after his horrific killing spree came to light, was convicted in 2000 of murdering 15 of his patients and sentenced to life in prison. (Photo by Greater Manchester Police via Getty Images)

The crimes of Harold Shipman, and the societal issues surrounding his murders, are set to be explored in a new three-part BBC 4 documentary.

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Filmmaker Chris Wilson will examine how the doctor managed to get away with his crimes for over two decades, getting an insight from the police officers who initially investigated the case, as well as lawyers and doctors to unveil a complex picture of Britain’s most prolific serial killer.

Wilson will also speak to the family and friends of Shipman’s victims, some of whom have never spoken on record about his crimes before.

Given our ageing population and increasing dependence on medical professionals and caregivers, the series will ask what can be learned from this case to prevent such heinous crimes ever happening again.

“There have been many films about Harold Shipman. Most attempt to take us ‘inside-the-mind’ of a serial killer. But none have fully explored the historical, cultural and social context that enabled a medical professional to take the lives of hundreds of trusting patients over more than two decades,” explained Wilson. “It’s a chilling story about power, authority and an astonishing betrayal of trust – one that, for me, remains as pertinent today as it was twenty years ago.”

The Harold Shipman Files: A Very British Crime Story follows on from BBC 4’s Yorkshire Ripper Files, which aired in March this year.

Commissioning Editor Abigail Priddle said, “As ‘The Yorkshire Ripper Files: A Very British Crime Story’ so powerfully showed, no crime or criminal exists in a vacuum and this critical re-examination of these terrible events will endeavour to reveal the systematic failings and cultural attitudes that allowed Shipman to go undetected for so long at such terrible human cost.”

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The Harold Shipman Files: A Very British Crime Story will air on BBC 4 later this year