The Hunt for Raoul Moat producer responds to criticism about ITV drama
"Our aim is to shine a light on a major piece of British history and to try and refocus people on what actually happened."
ITV's new true crime drama The Hunt For Raoul Moat is exploring the week-long manhunt of Moat, his crimes and the innocent victims of them.
The new series, which began yesterday and continues tonight, follows the events of 2010 that have gone down in British criminal history as being the biggest manhunt in the North East.
The drama focuses on the innocent victims of Moat’s crimes – Christopher Brown, Samantha Stobbart and PC David Rathband – but the series has still faced its fair share of criticism after first being announced back in 2022.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other press in a Q&A for the series, executive producer Jake Lushington of World Productions was upfront about any concerns.
When asked what he would say to the argument that production companies shouldn’t be making 'entertainment' out of a tragic story such as this, he responded: "Our aim is to shine a light on a major piece of British history – the biggest manhunt there ever was – and to try and refocus people on what actually happened."
He continued: "Nobody could ever say that the way we put this show together was focused towards, in broad terms, entertainment. It's there to inform but what drama does is it informs with emotion, with the ability to take you to places that any documentary can't and invest in that story.
"Yes, that can be thrilling or can be very involving but I think that's necessary of a drama to do – to take us into the perspectives that [writer Kevin Sampson's] talking about for Chris Brown, Sam Stobbart, the Rathbands, the police and what they had to do."
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He said: "Most people I talk to don't remember who Chris Brown is, don't really know what happened with Raoul Moat. So I think if we were trying to [make] something that bought into the, if you like, sensationalist mix of who this man was and exploited for some cheap ratings, I'd be the first person to be in the dock for it but that's never been our intention.
"I don't think that means we shouldn't dramatise difficult events that are part of our history that have not been understood or remembered maybe in the way they should have.
"I think we have a responsibility to inform and use drama to inform in a way that involves and shines a light in a way that documentaries can’t. That’s what we’ve tried to do."
One of the other main points of criticism that the new three-part drama has faced has centred on concerns that not enough time has passed yet for a TV drama on the horrific events of July 2010.
Addressing those claims, Lushington said: "Thirteen years is not the shortest period of time to tell a drama in retrospect, but again it's of course in living memory of a lot of people who were affected by it. It was a very traumatic incident."
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He continued: "I think there's a danger – it goes back to this idea of what we know and what we remember – that if we do not tell the story within the lifetime of people who were there and remember this 'legend' of a man against the system who was outwitting the cops... it won’t really be challenged. It won't be challenged in a meaningful way.
"Drama is cathartic, obviously we don't want to just needlessly upset people and needlessly throw it in people's faces but also, we think there's a light that needs to be shined on this incident within living memory so that people can actually wrestle with what it did mean for us, who really suffered and what really happened.
"It's a tough one, you won’t please everybody but there's a strong case for it."
The new drama is airing across three consecutive nights on ITV1 and stars Matt Stokoe as Moat, alongside Lee Ingleby as senior Northumbria police detective Neil Adamson and Sonya Cassidy as local journalist Diane Barnwell, among others.
While the series naturally chronicles the seven-day manhunt, it also explores the people who sought to bring Moat to justice and the hurdles they faced in doing so. It has also been created with challenging viewers to "think again about how they view cases like this", according to screenwriter Kevin Sampson.
He told press how before even penning the scripts, he sought the permission of Christopher Brown's family, explaining: "They were very, very supportive and the message that came from them from the start was that they felt that Chris had been forgotten.
"Every time they heard this referred to as the 'Raoul Moat case', it pained them and it prolonged their suffering so the stance was that they'd like Chris to be honoured, they’d like him to be remembered and they don't want him to simply be 'the guy who Raoul Moat shot'."
Sampson also said that the intentions of the drama are in no way concerned with exploring Moat's perspective, stating: "It was never our intention – with all respect to Matt [who plays Moat] – to get into Moat's point of view.
"In terms of reaching out to his family and asking for their perspective, we weren't ever even considering sort of fetishising a man on the run who was, in inverted commas, giving the police the run around.
"What we did do responsibly was to notify them and to invite any comments that they might have about our intentions. I think there's also a duty of care – Moat had numerous children, we wanted them to be consulted and to let them know that this was happening."
The Hunt for Raoul Moat continues on ITV1 at 9pm on Monday 17th April. For more news, interviews and features, visit our Drama hub or find something to watch now with our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.