The Long Shadow review – a shattering serial killer drama that breaks all the rules


A mighty cast including Katherine Kelly and Toby Jones tells the stories of the women murdered by Peter Sutcliffe. Finally, the focus is on the victims

By the end of the first two of the seven episodes of ITV’s new drama about the Yorkshire Ripper made available for review, Peter Sutcliffe has barely been glimpsed. This alone marks it out from the herd of serial killer dramas, let alone documentaries, of which every streaming platform has a full quota. The general rule is that, however much the makers stress that their creation will centre the victims instead of the perpetrator of the crimes, they somehow all end up in thrall to precisely that person. Even when there really are intentions otherwise, the perpetrator inevitably becomes the dramatic focus and the narrative engine.

The Long Shadow – so far, at least, which is already further than most – shatters the general rule. Written by George Kay (whose last outing was the very different, very fun Hijack starring Idris Elba) and directed by Lewis Arnold (Sherwood, Time, Des – the Dennis Nilsen drama starring David Tennant), it is based on Michael Bilton’s book Wicked Beyond Belief, plus additional research and with the consultation and blessing of the families.

The Long Shadow is on ITV and ITVX

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