Channel 4’s new four-part crime drama Deceit takes a piercing and timely look at one of the UK’s biggest and most catastrophic police operations.


Starring Niamh Algar and Eddie Marsan, the true crime drama series is set during the 1990s, and focuses on the police investigations into the devastating murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992.

In an exclusive column for, series writer Emilia di Girolamo recently explained how the drama Deceit challenges the narrative around a real-life honeytrap operation, known at the time as Operation Edzell, which went terribly wrong.

"Depicted from a unique female viewpoint, that of the undercover officer codenamed “Lizzie James” (played by Niamh Algar), Deceit examines the complicated and toxic sexual politics of the early ‘90s, the police’s obsession with the wrong man and the devastating impact on all involved," she writes.

She continued, "With twists and turns as surprising as the fictional undercover stories in Line of Duty, I had no doubt this real story would keep viewers gripped."

Read on for everything you need to know about the upcoming Channel 4 drama Deceit.

Deceit release date

The four-part drama series Deceit begins on Friday 13th August at 9pm on Channel 4.

Deceit cast

The undercover officer codenamed “Lizzie James” is played by Niamh Algar, while Colin Stagg is played by Sion Daniel Young (Keeping Faith).

Deceit Ep1

Other key characters in the drama are the young Detective Inspector leading the case, Keith Pedder (Harry Treadaway), who engages the nation’s most famous criminal profiler, Paul Britton (Eddie Marsan).

Meanwhile "Lizzie's" confidant Baz is played by Nathaniel Martello-White (I Hate Suzie, Small Axe: Mangrove)

Deceit true story

Deceit is inspired by a real-life undercover honeytrap operation, known at the time as Operation Edzell, which was at the heart of the high-pressure investigation into the devastating murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992.

According to the official Channel 4 synopsis, the drama portrays "the complicated and toxic sexual politics of the early ‘90s and the police’s obsession with the wrong man." "Deceit enters a dysfunctional world, where a female undercover officer, codename ‘Lizzie James’, is asked to become sexual bait for a suspected killer".

More like this
Deceit Ep1

As writer Emilia di Girolamo writes in "In summer 1992, a young woman, Rachel Nickell, was brutally murdered in front of her two-year-old son on Wimbledon Common. Her killer, Robert Napper, had long-standing mental health issues rooted in the trauma of his own childhood, which are believed to have culminated in more than a hundred violent sexual attacks on women and three horrific murders.

"Catastrophic and systematic police failings meant Napper escaped detection numerous times and when he killed Rachel, another innocent man, Colin Stagg, became the sole focus of the police investigation leaving Napper free to attack and kill Samantha Bissett and her young daughter Jazmine."

Deceit trailer

You can watch the Channel 4 trailer for Deceit here:


Deceit is coming soon to Channel 4 and All 4. While you're waiting, take a look at our TV guide for viewing inspiration or check out the rest of our Drama coverage.