The first trailer of a new ITV drama about the Pembrokeshire murders has been released.
Starring acclaimed actor Luke Evans as real-life detective Steve Wilkins, The Pembrokeshire Murders, depicts the pursuit of a cold-blooded serial killer responsible for two double murders in the 1980s.
The drama is adapted from the true crime book The Pembrokeshire Murders, written by Senior Investigating Officer Steve Wilkins and ITV Wales News journalist and presenter Jonathan Hill.
The three-part series about John Cooper, played by Keith Allen, who appeared on the ITV game show Bullseye before he was caught, is being made by ITV Studios' World Productions - the makers of Bodyguard and Line of Duty.
The two unsolved double murders from the 1980s casted a shadow over the work of the Dyfed Powys police force - until 2006 when a newly-promoted detective superintendent reopened both cases.
Employing pioneering forensic methods, Wilkins and his team found microscopic DNA and fibres that potentially linked the murders to a string of burglaries committed in the 80s and 90s.
The perpetrator of those robberies was nearing the end of his prison sentence, but if Steve Wilkins was right, he was also a serial killer.
Luke Evans said it was a "privilege" to be playing the role in the drama.
“It is a privilege to be playing the role of Steve Wilkins in The Pembrokeshire Murders and working again with Simon Heath, his team at World Productions and ITV. It’s a huge responsibility for me as the drama depicts a true crime which to this day still affects the families of those whose lives were tragically taken.”
In the spine-tingling trailer, Evans is seen desperately trying to find evidence after Cooper is released on prison for a series of burglaries.
The series also features Keith Allen as John Cooper, Owen Teale as Gerard Elias, Alexandria Riley as Ella Richards, Caroline Berry as Pat Cooper, Oliver Ryan as Andrew Cooper and David Fynn as ITV News journalist Jonathan Hill.
Director Marc Evans said one of the biggest challenges, as with any true crime story, was "authenticity and respect".
“You have to be as authentic and as realistic as you can be, and accurate in terms ofgetting the story properly represented, in terms of everybody who is involved. And then you also have to be very respectful of victimsand victim’s families and understand the possible effects of the scenes you are depicting. There’s a feeling of responsibility.
“It’s always tricky to cast a real life criminal. Let’s not forget he’s there and he did these things for real. Keith Allen was quite brilliantat absorbing the traits of Cooper and portraying a kind of strange dynamism that the man obviously had.
On making the programme, Jonathan Hill said, "I was making a programme called Crime Secrets in 2006 about the unsolved cases and I put a call in with the Dyfed–Powys Police force. I was shown into a room and Steve Wilkins came in, who I’d never met before.
"He was quite forceful and told me that he didn’t want the film to be made. He said, ‘what I’m about to tell you must never leave this room and if it does I’ll never speak to you again’. He told me that this case was being investigated and by making a programme, it would really cause a problem for him because it would alert Cooper to the fact that they were looking at it and they weren’t ready yet."
“So we kept the deal and I agreed to shelve my programme in return for getting the inside story when they were ready. Steve also realised he needed the media because he wanted to make a broadcast, that would send a message to Cooper, who was in prison and they knew that he watched ITV news.
"So it was slightly stage-managed that we revealed that the cases were being investigated. They wanted to see what Cooper’s reaction would be. It was very much a coded message directly to the killer, who they believed was Cooper. The next day, Cooper went into the prison library and took out books on cold cases and DNA so it clearly did have an impact."
The drama will run for three consecutive nights starting Monday January 11 on ITV.