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Exclusive – Nail Bomber: Manhunt creators say Netflix documentary is a "warning from history"

The makers of Netflix's documentary Nail Bomber: Manhunt, Colin Barr and Daniel Vernon, speak exclusively to

Nail Bomber
Published: Tuesday, 18th May 2021 at 11:09 am

Netflix are adding a new documentary to their true crime library: Nail Bomber: Manhunt.


The 72-minute long film will look at the crimes of David Copeland, who let off three bombs across various weekends in April 1999, in London's Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho areas.

Speaking exclusively to, the filmmakers Colin Barr and Daniel Vernon revealed why they decided to share this true story.

Asked what they want viewers to take a way from the film, which arrives on Netflix on May 26th, Vernon explained: "I think that Copeland put people into these neat categories that could never mix in his mind, and I think it's worth remembering 20 years from now how people get to that point because he wasn't a one off – that was the danger they made at the time, that he was a one-off.

"But we've now learnt that homegrown terrorism is really a real thing. And, as Neil Basu, the Assistant Commissioner of the Met said not long ago, extremism is the UK's fastest growing threat, so I guess we wanted this to be a sort of warning from history."

Nail Bomber contributor Bernard O'Mahoney
Nail Bomber: Manhunt contributor Bernard O'Mahoney Netflix

Barr continued: "On one hand what we're saying is this man set out to achieve this thing and he failed, because the ordinary people didn't let him succeed, and they didn't let him succeed because basically there are way more decent people in the world than evil, psychopathic bombers.

"But at the same time, you can't be complacent because look how easily it rises and look how easily Copeland found a group in which he could feel like he belonged because of the toxicity of his views. So, on the one hand, there's an inspiring message, hopefully, that good people are around, but on the other hand, it's a reminder that it can happen very easily."

Copeland was eventually caught on Friday, 30th April, 1999 after he detonated his last bomb, which killed three people in London's Soho area. This added to the 140 others he'd already wounded with his extremely dangerous nail bombs.

While Nail Bomber tells a sad story, Barr and Vernon also want to offer some hope to viewers, with Vernon revealing he was particularly impressed by how members of the public such as the victims, informant Arthur who went undercover in the BNP, and writer Bernard O'Mahoney did their bit to track down Copeland.

"It was the level that ordinary people at which ordinary people got involved to do something about it," he said. "Arguably, the police were definitely over their heads."

Vernon went on to claim the police weren't monitoring right wing terrorist groups properly, adding: "So, it was a big wake up call to them. They really were chasing their own tails, so it took it took the bravery really of ordinary people to try and catch this guy!"

Nail Bomber informant Arthur
Nail Bomber informant Arthur Netflix

Speaking of O'Mahoney and Arthur he added: "So, I thought that was quite an amazing story and it sort of gives a ray of hope to ordinary people. We wanted to put that across as strongly as we could!"

Nail Bomber: Manhunt drops on Netflix on Wednesday 26th May. Read our Nail Bomber: Manhunt review. To find out what’s on telly tonight, check out our TV Guide or visit our Documentaries hub for all the latest news.

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