Catching History's Criminals, TV review: BBC4 show is only for those with a strong stomach

With the help of some naff but necessary dramatic reconstructions, the programme told the stories of four ground-breaking criminal investigations

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The Independent Culture

This three-part documentary fronted by surgeon and author Gabriel Weston was only for those with a very strong stomach.

With the help of some naff but necessary dramatic reconstructions, Weston told the stories of four ground-breaking criminal investigations. There was the 1849 murder of Boston businessman Dr George Parkman, which led to one of the earliest uses of dental records to identify a corpse and the "Acid Bath Murderer" John Haigh who, by misunderstanding the legal term corpus delicti, unwittingly contributed to further advances in the field of forensics.

Weston reconstructed some of the key experiments herself and her perky presenter manner was amusingly out of place amid all the crime scene gore. This came across best during a visit to the Natural History Museum, where she met Dr Martin Hall, who is studying how maggots in corpses can be used to determine the time of death. "Martin," she asked, "just very broadly speaking, why do you have a pig's head in a suitcase?" Good question.

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