ITV drama The Long Shadow puts the spotlight on the victims of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, while also focusing on the police officers investigating his murders.


It's a harrowing true story, with the drama seeing a host of different detectives taking the lead in the case at one point or another, looking for the man dubbed by the media as the Yorkshire Ripper.

One of these detectives was Dennis Hoban, while another was George Oldfield, who is played in the series by David Morrissey. The latter is the best-known of the police officers to work on the case, but just who was the real man and what happened to him?

Read on for everything you need to know about the real story of George Oldfield.

*Warning - contains spoilers for events dramatised later in The Long Shadow*

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Who was George Oldfield and what happened to him?

George Oldfield
George Oldfield Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Godfrey Alexander Oldfield, known as George or Goff to his family, was born in October 1923, the youngest of four children. He joined the West Riding Police in 1947 when he was 24, and went on to specialise in the Criminal Investigation Department.

As he worked his way up the ranks, he married Margaret Curtis in 1954. The couple had four children, one of whom died of leukaemia aged six.

Oldfield became Detective Chief Superintendent and led the investigation into an IRA bomb that killed 12 people on a coach in February 1974. Judith Ward was convicted of the bombing following a confession and she was sentenced to 30 years, but in 1992, after Oldfield's death, Ward's conviction was declared unsafe and she was released from prison.

Oldfield was promoted to an Assistant Chief Constable for Crime at West Yorkshire Police, and in 1977 was appointed to take the lead in the case looking for the so-called Yorkshire Ripper. He is said to have become obsessed by the case, leading to a deterioration in his health.

In June 1979, Oldfield personally received a mailed tape recording and letters claiming to have been from the Yorkshire Ripper. It was later discovered that these were sent by hoaxer John Humble, who became known as Wearside Jack.

Oldfield and others in the police became convinced these were sent by the real murderer, focusing time and resources on finding a man from Sunderland, as this was the accent in the recording.

Oldfield was taken off the investigation in August 1979 after he fell ill with a chest infection, and spent more than four months off work, during which time he suffered a heart attack. He never returned to the investigation, and Sutcliffe was eventually caught in 1981.

Oldfield suffered a second heart attack in 1983 and took more months off work, and it was announced he would retire in August 1983. He ended his career as an Assistant Chief Constable with West Yorkshire Police, and died aged 61 in 1985.

Who plays George Oldfield in The Long Shadow?

David Morrissey as DCS George Oldfield in The Long Shadow in a suit, walking
David Morrissey as DCS George Oldfield in The Long Shadow. New Pictures for ITV

Oldfield is played in The Long Shadow by David Morrissey, who is known for his roles in The Walking Dead, The Missing, The Singapore Grip and Sherwood.

The Long Shadow will air on ITV1 and ITVX from 25th September 2023. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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