Who was Peter Sutcliffe? New ITV drama 'The Long Shadow' to tell story of Yorkshire Ripper

A new ITV drama will draw upon extensive archive as well as hundreds of case files and police reports to tell the story of the Yorkshire Ripper.

The Long Shadow is based on Michael Bilton's book Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.

George Kay’s scripts will focus on the lives of the Sutcliffe's victims, the loved ones they left behind, and the lasting toll of the investigation on detectives.

Daniel Mays plays Sydney Jackson - the husband of one of the victims, Emily Jackson. Credit: ITV

Who was the Yorkshire Ripper?

Peter Sutcliffe, who became known in press reports as the Yorkshire Ripper in reference to Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper, was a serial killer who was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others between 1975 and 1980.

What began as a series of attacks targeting sex workers in Leeds became a crime spree encompassing large parts of the north of England and women of all backgrounds.

How was Peter Sutcliffe caught?

In January 1981, Sutcliffe was stopped by police with a 24-year-old prostitute in Sheffield. A police check revealed his car had false number plates. He was arrested and transferred to Dewsbury police station.

There he was questioned in relation to the Ripper case, as he matched many of the known physical characteristics. After two days of intensive questioning, Sutcliffe suddenly declared he was the Yorkshire Ripper and was charged.

Toby Jones and Lee Ingleby both star in the drama. Credit: ITV

What happened at the trial?

Sutcliffe pleaded not guilty to 13 charges of murder at trial, but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The basis of his defence was that he claimed his actions were "God's will" and that he had heard voices telling him to do it. He also pleaded guilty to seven charges of attempted murder.

Despite four psychiatrists diagnosing him with paranoid schizophrenia, the judge insisted the case be dealt with by a jury. After a two-week trial, Sutcliffe was found guilty on all counts.

He was sentenced to 20 concurrent sentences of life imprisonment, which were converted to a whole life order in 2010, meaning he would die behind bars.

Where was Peter Sutcliffe imprisoned?

Sutcliffe began his sentence at HM Prison Parkhurst, on the Isle of Wight. In March 1984, he was sent to Broadmoor Hospital, under Section 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

At the end of 2015, he was assessed as being "no longer mentally ill", and the following summer a medical tribunal ruled that he could be returned to prison.

Sutcliffe was reported to have been transferred from Broadmoor to HM Prison Frankland in County Durham in August 2016.

The Long Shadow will come to ITV1 and ITVX in September. Credit: ITV

When did Peter Sutcliffe die?

Sutcliffe died at University Hospital of North Durham on 13 November 2020, at the age of 74. He had a number of underlying health conditions including obesity and diabetes. He also reportedly refused treatment for Covid-19.

What is The Long Shadow's release date and what can we expect?

The new seven-part drama stars Mark Stobbart as Peter Sutcliffe, alongside the likes of Jill Halfpenny, Katherine Kelly, Daniel Mays and Toby Jones.

It's set to be released on ITV1 and ITVX on 25 September 2023.

Director Lewis Arnold said: "This story has been told many times but many of the women and people directly involved may not have had their side of the story reflected in their own words. I hope that this show goes someway to tip the balance in their favour."

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