Catching Britain's Killers: The Crimes That Changed Us

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Series 1 - Episode 1 DNA



Every time a killer is convicted by DNA evidence, Dawn Ashworth’s mother looks to the heavens and says: “There you are, Dawn, they’ve got another one.” Dawn was murdered at the age of 15, as she walked to her home in a Leicestershire village.

The murders of Dawn and another 15-year-old schoolgirl, Lynda Mann, who lived in a nearby village, by the same man in the 1980s, ushered in possibly the greatest ever investigative tool in criminal history, DNA profiling.

This fascinating, respectful documentary looks at the impact of a scientific technique that has transformed the investigation of murders and other serious crimes, and has secured notable convictions in cold cases.

Police officers, family members and forensic scientists all contribute, as does geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys, who pioneered the use of profiling in those Leicestershire cases. Yet even he doubted the pinpoint accuracy of those early tests.


The stories of murder investigations and their consequences, which overturned laws, transformed police interrogation and revolutionised forensic detection. It begins with the hunt to find the killer of two teenage girls in 1980s Leicestershire, which led to an extraordinary forensic breakthrough - DNA fingerprinting.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Priyanga Burford
Director Emma Frank
Executive Producer Colette Flight
Producer Emily Thompson
Series Producer Nancy Bornat