Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story

A Question of Identity

Series 1 - Episode 1 A Question of Identity



CSI buffs will love this, surgeon and author Gabriel Weston’s trip through history’s infamous murders, and the part forensic science played in catching killers.

Complete with gruesome crime scene and post mortem photographs Weston examines the 1935 case of the two women whose dismembered bodies were found wrapped in newspaper and dumped in a Scottish stream. “These are the actual maggots recovered from the remains,” says a delighted Weston, holding a glass phial to camera.

It’s fascinating; she talks to Sir Alec Jeffreys (subject of a recent ITV drama) about his discovery of DNA profiling, and she examines an amazing new technique – molecular photofitting, where scientists build pictures of faces from DNA samples.


An insight into the development of forensic science as a way of catching murderers over the past 200 years, charting the scientific breakthroughs that have changed the course of justice. Surgeon and writer Gabriel Weston begins by looking at the difficulty of identifying the body in a murder case, from charred bones to bodies completely dissolved in acid. She focuses on the use of teeth and bite marks to identify a victim or killer, traces the uses of insects to pinpoint the time of death, and meets the geneticist who pioneered the technique of DNA profiling.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Gabriel Weston
Executive Producer Jaqueline Smith
Series Producer Graeme Thomson
Education Reality