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New Documentary Examines How 'Dr Death' Harold Shipman Got Away With Murder For So Long

New Documentary Examines How 'Dr Death' Harold Shipman Got Away With Murder For So Long

A chilling new documentary series will examine how notorious serial killer Dr Harold Shipman was able to get away with murder for so long.

The Shipman Files: A Very British Crime Story documents the crimes of 'respected' GP Shipman who was caught and charged with the murder of 15 of his patients.

However, in the investigations and eventual public inquiry that followed it was found that his actual killing toll was far higher - with 215 victims identified and an estimated total of 250.

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The majority of Shipman's victims were elderly women, something documentary maker Chris Wilson believes may have been why the killer went uncaught for so long.

Chris told LADbible: "I wanted to look at this story from the point of view of the victims - rather than it being about the killer - and hoped their stories would reveal something about how and why this happened.

"Whenever I've seen things about Shipman in the past, they tend to be about one of the two things: why did he do it, or they focus on the numbers and the scale. And both of these things mean there's a tendency to miss the people he killed.

"One of the things that was interesting about Shipman was that it's a story about our attitudes to the elderly and old age. Because he predominantly killed elderly people and I think the preconception of it was, 'wasn't he that doctor who bumped off old ladies?' and 'I don't know much about them, but they were probably ill anyway'.

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Dr Harold Shipman's surgery in Hyde, Greater Manchester. Credit: PA
Dr Harold Shipman's surgery in Hyde, Greater Manchester. Credit: PA

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"People have this picture of Shipman's victims being decrepit and old... but actually once you start to look at who they actually were there was nothing wrong with most of them. They were active, fit and well-loved. The fact that they were older means that people didn't really question their deaths, in a way I think they would have had they not been in that age bracket.

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"And what begins to emerge when you properly dig into the story and one of the things we found, is that he started killing when he was junior doctor and he may have actually killed - at least - two children.

"So this idea I had - this lazy idea, of 'oh this is the guy who had the 'thing' for killing old people' - is not true. He had a thing for killing and perhaps the reason that he chose to kill [those] particular patients was because he knew he'd get away with it."

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The three-parter features interviews with victims' families, the lead investigator of the case, journalists who covered the crimes and trial as well as the husband of a GP who worked with Shipman.

A public inquiry was launched to track down more victims of the GP. Credit: PA
A public inquiry was launched to track down more victims of the GP. Credit: PA

Shipman took his own life in his cell at Wakefield Prison on 13 January 2004 - the day before he turned 58 - meaning we'll never know why he did what he did.

Chris added: "In terms of his motivation... I kind of think, I don't care - we'll never know. He'll never talk about it. He refused to talk about it. He killed himself while he was in prison and so, although it's interesting to speculate, we just didn't want to do that."

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The first episode of The Shipman Files: A Very British Crime Story airs on BBC Two tonight at 9pm, with the following episodes airing at the same time on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Featured Image Credit: GMP/Wakefield Prison

Topics: TV and Film, crime

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Claire Reid

Claire is a journalist at LADbible who, after dossing around for a few years, went to Liverpool John Moores University. She graduated with a degree in Journalism and a whole load of debt. When not writing words in exchange for money she is usually at home watching serial killer documentaries surrounded by cats. You can contact Claire at [email protected]