10 true crime TV picks

True crime is the theme for these 10 TV picks. We look at the genre in its broadest sense, including dramatisations, observational documentaries and investigations into unsolved crimes. All 10 are available to watch now.

Murder in the Car Park - Channel 4

It is the most investigated unsolved murder in the history of the Metropolitan Police.

Private investigator Daniel Morgan was brutally murdered with an axe in the car park of a south London pub in 1987.

This three-part documentary continues the investigation more than 30 years later, using interviews, dramatic reconstruction and archive footage, and spans allegations of police corruption and the phone hacking scandal. Utterly gripping.

What they say: ‘A major undertaking … Unmissable.’ iNews

The Murder of Stephen Lawrence - ITV

Teenager Stephen Lawrence’s murder in a racially-motivated attack in 1993 was a crime that shocked the nation.

Paul Greengrass’s Bafta-winning drama documentary examined the murder and its aftermath through the eyes of Stephen’s parents, Neville and Doreen.

Recently re-aired on ITV accompanied by an hour-long documentary asking Stephen Lawrence: Has Britain Changed?, ITV is now making a three-part sequel, Stephen, telling what happened after 2006 and his parents’ struggle to achieve justice.

What they say: ‘Vividly realistic, a strikingly fine drama documentary.’ The Guardian


I Love You, Now Die - Sky Crime

Michelle Carter was accused of persuading her boyfriend to kill himself via text message.

Prosecutors said Carter encouraged Conrad Roy to go through with his suicide even after he expressed hesitation. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and released from prison earlier this year after serving 11 months of a 15-month sentence.

Director Erin Lee Carr’s two-part documentary about the case is challenging and compelling.

What they say: ‘A superbly perceptive study of the endless convolutions and complexities of the human mind – and the proliferation of both when two people in a desperately unhappy state meet.’ The Guardian

Crime and Punishment - Channel 4

Now into its second series, this Channel 4 documentary is a heavyweight examination of our criminal justice system.

Many years in the making and with unprecedented access, it explores the crucial challenges and dilemmas that exist within it, by turns a painful, frustrating and traumatic watch.

The new series began by following two rape cases, from the perspectives of the police, the CPS and the women themselves.

What they say: ‘An exemplary documentary series.’ Radio Times


Police Code Zero: Officer Under Attack - Channel 5

This observational documentary series gives a close-up, unflinching account of the realities of modern day policing.

‘Code Zero’ callouts are the radio call issued by officers who require urgent assistance, often when they are under attack or their lives are in danger.

The Channel 5 series uses body cameras, CCTV and dashcam footage, along with interviews with the officers involved, to take viewers to the frontline of policing in 2020.

What they say: ‘Three frontline cops open up about the times they've had to push the emergency button.’ The Sun

There Are No Fakes - Sky Arts

This acclaimed documentary starts as a story about an art forgery and ends as something so much darker and disturbing than that.

It began when Kevin Hearn of rock band Barenaked Ladies bought a painting by indigenous Canadian artist Norval Morrisseau which turned out to be fake.

The subsequent court case and investigation revealed a massive art fraud scam and a story of drug dealing, abuse and exploitation.

What they say: ‘We have a tendency to think of art crimes as plucky, even heroic. This fanciful idea was blown apart in … Jamie Kastner’s extraordinary film.’ iNews

Manhunt: the Raoul Moat Story - ITV

It was one of the biggest manhunts in British history. Raoul Moat went on the run after shooting his ex-girlfriend’s new partner dead and severely wounding her.

The nation was gripped as police closed in on the suspect, a seven-day hunt that ended with Moat, who blinded a police officer, killing himself after a six-hour stand off with armed officers.

Nicky Campbell revisits this tragic and extraordinary story in a 10th anniversary programme featuring interviews with police, victims’ relatives and witnesses.

What they say: ‘This tense documentary retraces how the Northumbria police finally tracked down a notorious fugitive.’ Financial Times

Border Force: America’s Gatekeepers - Dave

The boundary between the United States and Mexico is the busiest international border in the world.

And it is the job of the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency to stop terrorists, drugs and illegal weapons from entering the US.

With rare and unrestricted access, this observational documentary series takes Dave viewers to the frontline of one of the most talked about places in the world.

What they say: ‘An insight not only into how customs and immigration officers go about their job, but how creative cartels can get in order to smuggle drugs and cash across the border.’ Telly Binge


The Cult of the Family - Sky Crime

The Family is the most notorious religious cult in Australian history.

Yoga teacher Anne Hamilton-Byrne claimed to be Jesus Christ and gave her adopted children LSD and identical clothes and haircuts, prompting comparisons with The Village of the Damned.

This three-part documentary by writer/director Rosie Jones uses cult movie footage and interviews with police and survivors to examine the rise and fallout of the cult and its strange but charismatic leader.

‘The defining televisual text of this strange and shocking chapter in Australian history.’ The Guardian

Murder in the Outback: the Falconio and Lees Mystery - Channel 4

Nearly 20 years after the killing of British backpacker Peter Falconio in Australia’s remote Northern Territory, Channel 4 reopened the case to ask if the wrong man had been convicted of his murder.

Falconio was travelling with his girlfriend Joanne Lees when a man in a pick-up truck gestured for them to pull over. Lees told how he shot Falconio dead and attempted to abduct her, later managing to escape.

Bradley John Murdoch was convicted of his murder but has maintained his innocence in a case that generated huge media and public attention. Falconio’s body has never been found.

What they say: ‘The Falconio case has all the ingredients for a gripping true crime serial.’ Financial Times

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