BBC true-crime drama Four Lives tells the stories of Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, who were drugged and murdered by Stephen Port at his flat in Barking, London, between 2014 and 2015.
The three-part series tells the story from the perspectives of the victims' families and friends, who campaigned relentlessly for justice following multiple mistakes by the Metropolitan Police, which they described as “one of the most widespread institutional failures in modern history”.
An inquest ruled that mistakes made during the investigation into Walgate's death “probably” contributed to those of Kovari, Whitworth and Taylor.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other press about the making of Four Lives, executive producer Jeff Pope said: “Our process is to engage very, very early with the families, which we did. And if we’d really encountered a lot of resistance to the idea of doing this drama then we would have abandoned it at that point.
"The only family that we couldn’t really establish proper contact with was Gabriel Kovari’s family in Slovakia. We informed them about what we were doing and so they’re aware of it... but they chose not to be involved."
Pope explained that he and executive producer Neil McKay worked with the families throughout the process, who have all watched the final product, "with the exception of the family of Gabriel".
McKay added: "We never quite know how people will react; you have your fingers crossed; you have your heart in your mouth. They've trusted you with the most intense, personal experience they will probably have in their lives. And it's a massive responsibility. And yes, it did go extremely well. Very, very emotional.
"I went up to Hull to show the drama to both Sarah [Sakl, Anthony's mother, and his auntie Kate, and also Anthony's dad Tom. And I left the DVDs with Sarah and Kate first and went off for a walk around Hull for five, six hours, very nervously. And then I texted her or I think I might have accidentally rung her and she said, 'Oh, it's brilliant.'
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"She said there were a lot of tears; she said they got through one and a half bog rolls. But they were laughing. Jeff and I will say this a lot. We've done a lot of these kinds of dramas. It’s a very, very strange thing but in a funny way – cathartic is too strong a word – but in a way I think it sort of blows the murkiness and the mystery and some of the darkness away.
"So they're all very, very pleased with what we've done, and with everybody's work. And it means something to them, you know? You get a good review in The Guardian or the Daily Mail and that's nice, but it doesn't count for anything compared to hearing the reactions of the families."
Four Lives airs over three consecutive nights from Monday 3rd January at 9pm on BBC One, with all episodes on BBC iPlayer from the same time. Looking for more to watch? Check out our TV Guide. Visit our Drama hub for all the latest news.