Des: 10 true crime dramas to watch if you liked the ITV show

From ‘When They See Us’ to ‘Little Boy Blue’ – here are the best series based on real-life crimes you can stream now

Ellie Harrison
Thursday 17 September 2020 10:09 BST
When They See Us trailer

David Tennant’s turn as the real-life serial killer Dennis Nilsen in Des has terrified viewers in recent days, with his performance hailed as “blood-curdling” and “f***ing fantastic”.

The series revolved around one of Britain’s most notorious killers, who murdered up to 15 men in the 1970s and 1980s.

Now that the ITV show about the Muswell Hill Murderer has come to an end, here are 10 more brilliant dramas that have depicted real-life crimes…

Little Boy Blue (on ITV Hub)

This drama by true-crime master Jeff Pope tells the crushing story of Rhys Jones, the 11-year-old Everton fan who was murdered in Liverpool in 2007. It includes shattering performances by Stephen Graham and Sinead Keenan.

When They See Us (on Netflix)

‘When They See Us' (Netflix )

Ava DuVernay’s series about the five teenage boys who were wrongly convicted of a 1989 rape in Central Park will leave you bristling with rage. The young cast are exceptionally empathetic, and the archival footage – which includes Trump calling for the return of the death penalty in the state – is truly chilling.

White House Farm (on ITV Hub)

The Jeremy Bamber murders of 1985 are no less shocking 35 years on. The former public schoolboy was convicted of killing his parents, his sister and her six-year-old twin sons inside the family home. Freddie Fox gives as unnerving performance as Bamber.

Dirty John (on Netflix)

Based on the LA Times podcast from investigative journalist Christopher Goffard, Dirty John tells the story of conman John Meehan, who preys upon a wealthy and gullible Californian widow. Julia Garner, Connie Britton and Juno Temple make up the starry cast.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace (on Netflix)

Ryan Murphy’s brutal drama stars Darren Criss as serial killer Andrew Cunanan in the lead-up to his murder of Versace in 1997. As with all of Murphy’s shows, it’s camp, macabre and beautifully stylised.

Unbelievable (on Netflix)

'Unbelievable' (Netflix)

Toni Colette steals every scene in this shocking and important series, in which she plays a detective investigating the case of a young woman who is charged by police for retracting her account of rape. Adapted from the Pulitzer prize-winning ProPublica/Marshall Project story, it also stars Kaitlyn Dever and the wonderful Merritt Wever.

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Appropriate Adult (on BritBox)

True-crime filmmaker Jeff Pope deserves another mention in this piece for Appropriate Adult, the Bafta-winning drama that tells the story of Fred and Rosemary West's depraved crimes from the perspective of real-life social worker Janet Leach, who accompanied Fred during police interviews. It’s a fascinating, fresh angle on the well-known tale, with superb performances from Emily Watson, Dominic West and Monica Dolan.

Quiz (on ITV Hub)

'Quiz' (ITV)

The nation was transfixed by this drama about the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? cheating scandal earlier this year. It tells the story of how, in 2001, former British army major Charles Ingram won the jackpot, before being accused of cheating. Matthew Macfadyen plays Ingram with the perfect balance of humour and malice.

The People v OJ Simpson (on Netflix)

Sarah Paulson is terrific as district attorney Marcia Clark in this dramatisation of OJ Simpson’s famous 1995 murder trial. The series received 22 Emmy nominations and won 13, including in the Outstanding Limited Series category. Cuba Gooding Jr plays Simpson and David Schwimmer is the lawyer, Robert Kardashian, who defends him.

Murdered by My Boyfriend (on BBC iPlayer)

This powerful standalone drama from 2014 stars Georgina Campbell as Ashley Jones, a young victim of abuse at the hands of her controlling boyfriend. The show won a Bafta and was applauded by domestic violence charities including Refuge.

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