Crimewatch viewers have criticised the show after it used a girl’s real life rape and murder as a “disgustingly insensitive” cliffhanger.
Jeremy Vine took over from Kirsty Young as the BBC programme’s new co-host alongside former Radio 1 Newsbeat presenter Tina Daheley on Monday night, but fans were left angry after being told to watch next week’s episode to find out what happened in the case of 17-year-old Melanie Roads.
“Since when did Crimewatch become a soap opera?” one viewer wrote on Twitter. “A cliffhanger about a real life case? Really?” Others were quick to chime in, branding the show an “absolute disgrace” and voicing their disbelief at the “soap opera” approach to upping ratings.
Roads was murdered back in 1984 but her killer Christopher Hampton was only found guilty earlier this year. The new Crimewatch series will be telling the “inside story” of how the case was eventually solved 31 years after the heinous crime was committed.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Crimewatch worked closely with the police on this item which was made with the cooperation of Melanie Road’s family. The story of Melanie’s brutal murder and how detectives eventually caught her killer spanned decades, involving hundreds of police officers and multiple investigation teams. To do full justice to Melanie’s story it was necessary to tell it across two programmes.
“With Crimewatch now airing in a weekly format it was important to inform viewers that the conclusion of the case would be shown the following week. ‘How They Caught’ items are useful in reassuring viewers that despite all the crime featured on the programme, criminals are caught and justice is served.”
Crimewatch’s rebooted format will see it air weekly with live broadcasts from a mobile studio set up near the scene of a major crime. Favourite elements of the original programme will still feature, from reconstructions and CCTV footage to appeals and “wanted faces”.
“It is one of the most powerful programmes the BBC has ever broadcast, with the power to change and save lives, and of course to solve crimes,” Vine said ahead of his debut. “To present is a great honour and with this new format Crimewatch will be even more at the heart of the BBC One schedule.”
There has been a growing interest in true crime in the wake of US series Making a Murderer and The Jinx but nevertheless, the revamped Crimewatch trailed behind Cold Feet in the ratings, attracting just 2.7 million viewers compared to 6.1 million for the ITV revival.
The BBC is yet to respond to our request for comment.
Crimewatch airs on Monday at 9pm on BBC One
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