Channel 5's director of programmes Ben Frow has defended the decision to air a drama about the life of Maxine Carr.


It was announced in June that newcomer Jemma Carlton and Line of Duty actor Scott Reid would play Carr and Ian Huntley respectively in a three-part series.

The drama will explore Carr's relationship with Huntley, who was later sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment for the double murder of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Carr also received a shorter sentence for knowingly providing Huntley with a false alibi for the murders in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

Speaking at this year's Edinburgh International TV Festival, Frow said that Channel 5 debated whether or not to commission the drama.

"I felt we should," he said. "I was very interested in telling the story of, who is Maxine Carr? How did she grow up? What was her upbringing? What life circumstances made her the person she was, so that at that crucial moment, she sided with Ian Huntley over the police in the investigation?"

Carr was released on probation in 2004 and is now living under a new name in a secret location, having won an injunction in 2005 granting her lifelong anonymity on the grounds that her life would otherwise be in danger.

"She hasn't taken part in [the drama] or had anything to do with it," Frow confirmed. "But I was very interested in the story behind the person. So this is our story of Maxine Carr's life and her relationship with Ian Huntley. It's not about the Soham murders."

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Frow said he feels "very proud" of the final product, insisting that it is "deeply respectful to the victims".

New members of Maxine cast Jemma Carlton and Scott Reid
Jemma Carlton and Scott Reid will play Maxine Carr and Ian Huntley in Channel 5's Maxine YellowBelly/ Ruth Crafer

"I think there's a real edge around true crime, an increased nervousness around true crime – whether it's factual true crime or whether it's dramatised true crime," he said.

"But in discussing it, what excited me and made me think it was interesting for us – and hopefully for the viewers – is that it's not about the murders, it's about a woman who came from a very challenging upbringing and then had a questionable relationship with a man, and how she was influenced by that and how that influenced the decisions that she made.

"So we did debate, should we [or] shouldn't we, how do we [approach it]. I am confident that we are in a very good space with it. I feel very proud of it. I think we have been deeply respectful to the victims, whilst shining a light on some very challenging issues that Maxine Carr lived with.

"I'm not making any excuses for her, but it's an interesting way of looking at a very well-told story [...] this is a different prism through which we're telling that story."

Maxine will air on Channel 5 later this year.

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