A Confession writer Jeff Pope reveals why he chose not to film in real-life locations

The writer explains that his new ITV crime drama wasn’t filmed where real-life murders for a specific reason

Martin Freeman as Steve Fulcher in A Confession (ITV)

A Confession is a new crime drama on ITV about the real-life murders of two women in Swindon – and one detective’s mission to catch their killer.

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It tells the story of Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, played by Martin Freeman, who deliberately breached police procedure and protocol to catch the man responsible for the murders of 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan and 20-year-old Becky Godden.

Writer Jeff Pope interviewed Fulcher as part of his research, as well as the families of the victims, but he decided not to film the drama where the real events happened for “sensitivity” reasons. 

“No, we didn’t, we tended not to,” Pope tells RadioTimes.com. “We didn’t film on Swindon’s High Street or at Suju’s which is where Sian was taken from. We didn’t go to the field where Becky was found or the ditch where Sian was.” 

Explaining why the decision was taken to not film in central Swindon, Pope says: “We felt there would be friends and family of Sian walking down the High Street and there we are, recreating the moment when she gets into Halliwell’s car. The decision not to film there was at least partly because of sensitivity.”

In January, the ITV true crime drama Manhunt, starring Martin Clunes, sparked controversy for filming on Twickenham Green where Milly Dowler vanished on the 16th anniversary of her murder.

“I saw that,” says Pope. “It was so specific, wasn’t it? I used to work on the Ealing Gazette so I know it very well around there…

“With [my 2017 true crime drama] Little Boy Blue, it was filmed in Liverpool but in a different part because we felt it would be too inflammatory to film essentially a story about gangs actually where those gangs still exist.”

Pope adds that “while there wasn’t the same level of sensitivity” with A Confession, the decision was taken to film elsewhere.

A Confession, which also stars Imelda Staunton, Siobhan Finneran and Charlie Cooper, will air on ITV later this year.

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A Confession airs on ITV in September