Bradford council bans filming of show about the Yorkshire Ripper

Bradford council bans filming of show about the Yorkshire Ripper


Council bosses in Bradford ban TV crew from using its public spaces to film ITVs new Yorkshire Ripper drama The Long Shadow because it ‘perpetuates the memory of the serial killer’

  • Bradford Council has banned a new ITV series about the Yorkshire Ripper 
  • Peter Sutcliffe murdered 13 women in the 1970s, three in Bradford, Yorkshire
  • Filming has been prohibited not to ‘perpetuate’ the memory of the evil killer 
  • The Long Shadow is expected to air later this year or in early 2023 

The city home to Britain’s most notorious serial killer has banned a TV show from filming in its public areas to not ‘perpetuate’ the memory of the Yorkshire Ripper.

Bradford’s Council has prohibited a new ITV drama about Peter Sutcliffe’s murders, called The Long Shadow, from filming throughout parts of the city including streets and parks.

Sutcliffe brutally murdered 13 women in a six-year killing spree in the 1970s – three of his victims, Patricia Atkinson, Yvonne Pearson and Barbara Leach were killed in Bradford.

Two other women were also attacked by the evil murderer in the city but survived.

Emails show that senior Bradford councillors refused filming rights for the film.

Katherine Kelly (centre) filming with Line of Duty star Daniel Mays (right) for ITV’s new production about Peter Sutcliffe, The Long Shadow. Kelly will play the Yorkshire Ripper’s second victim Emily Jackson and Mays will play the victim’s husband Sydney

Councillors in Bradford have banned ITV from filming its new production about Peter Sutcliffe, called The Long Shadow, in Bradford over fears that it may ‘perpetuate his memory’ 

Barbara Leach (left) and Patricia Atkinson (right) were murdered by the evil serial killer in Bradford in 1977 and 1979. They were two of 13 victims Sutcliffe killed over a six-year spree in the 1970s

One email from New Pictures, the production company behind the series, said: ‘We understand the subject remains hugely sensitive, even now, especially for those who remember and endured the fear that Sutcliffe’s crimes rained over Yorkshire.

‘That said, the story we are telling is one mostly neglected by previous media releases, which is that of the victims themselves.

‘The content of the series is neither graphic, gratuitous, nor does it exploit the horrific nature of Sutcliffe’s crimes.’

The production company said it would be working with those closest to the crimes, including Richard McCann, the son of the Ripper’s first victim Wilma McCann.

The production company said it would be working with closely with the victims families, including Richard McCann (right), the son of the Ripper’s first victim Wilma McCann (left)

Emails reveal there had been plans to film the series in another part of the country, but victims’ families ‘thought it needed to be told in West Yorkshire’.

The emails, where specific senders and recipients are largely redacted, reveal how the council came to make the decision.

One email, understood to be from Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe, said: ‘I’m not keen on us participating in anything that perpetuates the memory of the man, so the answer’s no from me I’m afraid.’

The production company responded by trying to assure the council the series would not ‘exploit or sensationalise the nature of his crimes’.

It also offered to work with charities and support groups in the area, adding: ‘We fully appreciate the weight of responsibility when approaching a story as sensitive as this, especially when seeking to tell it in areas such as Bradford, which are closest and most affected by the tragic events.

‘That said, we are committed to producing a series that is authentic, honest and made with compassion and integrity.’

However, a final email signed ‘Susan’ – sent in response to the matter being chased by New Pictures – says: ‘I said no quite clearly I think?’

Yvonne Pearson was the third victim who was killed by Sutcliffe in Bradford. She died on March 26 1978

Line of Duty star Mark Stobbart was recently spotted portraying evil Peter Sutcliffe (pictured above). The ITV show will tell the story of the horrific murders and follow the huge manhunt to find Sutcliffe

The ITV show will tell the story of the horrific murders and follow the huge manhunt to find Sutcliffe.

The series is set to include big names including Mark Stobbart, Daniel Mays, Stephen Tompkinson, David Morrissey and Katherine Kelly.

The former Corrie star was spotted filming eerie scene for the production in July, transformed into the Ripper’s second confirmed victim Emily Jackson.

Line of Duty star Mark Stobbart was recently pictured portraying evil Peter Sutcliffe and Daniel Mays, who will play Emily’s husband, Sydney, has also been spotted filming.

The house chosen to double up as Sutcliffe’s home is a residential property in the Roundhay area of Leeds, around 15 miles away from the real life house in Bradford.

Sutcliffe’s detached house in Garden Lane, Bradford. The ITV production will use a home in Roundhay, Leeds to double-up as the Ripper’s home

Some filming has taken place for the series on private land in Bradford including the Bulmer & Lumb, off Halifax Road, has been used for Millgarth Police Station in Leeds.

Sutcliffe’s killing spree began in October 1975 with 28-year-old mother-of-four Wilma McCann, who was hit with a hammer and stabbed 15 times.

He was interviewed nine times during a huge investigation but continued to avoid arrest and was able to carry on killing.

Sutcliffe brutally murdered 13 women in a six-year killing spree in the 1970s. Three of his victims, Patricia Atkinson, Yvonne Pearson and Barbara Leach were killed in Bradford. The city has now prohibited filming for a new ITV production about the serial killer 

Over the next five years, Sutcliffe claimed the lives of 12 more innocent women before finally being apprehended by police in Sheffield for driving with false number plates.

He was convicted in 1981 and spent three decades at the high-security psychiatric hospital Broadmoor Hospital before being moved to HMP Frankland in 2016.

Sutcliffe, who was blind and wheelchair-bound at the end of his life, died at HMP Frankland from a combination of Covid-19 and heart disease in November 2020.

On the day of his death, West Yorkshire Police apologised for the ‘language, tone and terminology’ used in the 1970s to describe some of the killer’s victims.

Bradford Council has been contacted for a statement. 

The monster who terrorised an entire country: The desperate five-year search for The Yorkshire Ripper  

The Yorkshire Ripper’s five-year reign of terror sparked the country’s biggest ever manhunt – but police missed multiple opportunites to find the sadistic killer.

The first woman known to be attacked by Sutcliffe was a female prostitute who he hit over the head with a stone in a sock in Bradford in 1969. Police tracked him down the next day and told him he was ‘very lucky’, as the woman did not want anything more to do with the incident.

Sutcliffe attacked Anna Rogúlskyj on the night of 5 July 1975 in Keighley. As she was walking alone, he struck her unconscious with a ball-peen hammer and slashed her stomach with a knife. Disturbed by a neighbour, he left without killing her. Rogulskyj survived after neurological surgery.

On the night of 15 August, Sutcliffe attacked Olive Smelt in Halifax. He struck her with a hammer from behind  then slashed her lower back with a knife. Again he was interrupted and left his victim badly injured but alive. 

12 days later he attacked 14-year-old Tracy Browne in Silsden. He struck her from behind and hit her on the head five times. He ran off when he saw the lights of a passing car, leaving his victim requiring brain surgery. Sutcliffe confessed to this crime in 1992 but was never convicted of it.

Twelve of Sutcliffe’s 13 victims. Top row (left to right): Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson and Patricia Atkinson. Middle row: Jayne McDonald, Jean Jordan, Yvonne Pearson and Helen Rytka. Bottom row: Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach and Jacqueline Hill

He began his killing spree in 1975, battering 28-year-old sex worker Wilma McCann to death on October 30, 1975, which followed three non-fatal attacks on women earlier in the year.

On January 20, 1976, he killed his second victim, Emily Jackson who was a part-time sex worker, Sutcliffe pretended his car wouldn’t start when he picked her up and battered her twice with a hammer as she offered to help. He the dragged her body into a yard and used a screwdriver to viciously stab her a total of 52 times in the neck, breasts, lower abdomen and back. Her body was found on Manor Street in Leeds.

On May 9, he attacked 20-year-old Marcella Claxton in Roundhay Park, Leeds. She had accepted an offer of a lift from Sutcliffe as she walked out of a party. When she got out of the car to urinate, he hit her from behind with a hammer. She survived and testified against Sutcliffe at his trial – but lost her unborn baby at four months pregnant and required multiple brain operations,

Nine months later he struck again, murdering 28-year-old Irene Richardson on February 5, 1977. Another prostitute Sutcliffe picked up, he attacked her in Roundhay Park, Leeds, where they had stopped so she could go to the toilet. As she crouched down, the killer delivered three heavy blows to her head with a hammer, then he tore open her jacket and blouse and began to stab and slash her with his Stanley knife.

 Two months later, Sutcliffe killed 32-year-old prostitute Patricia Atkinson on April 23, 1977 – she was his first victim in his hometown of Bradford.

Yorkshire police are pictured searching for Wilma McCann, the Ripper’s first victim, in 1975

He picked her up and took her to a flat in Oak Avenue, where he picked up a hammer and dealt four massive blows to the back of her head. He also stabbed her six times in the stomach with a knife and tried to do the same to her back, before throwing bed linen over the top of her body and leaving.

On 26 June, Sutcliffe committed the murder which would spark national interest around his crimes. He murdered 16-year-old shop assistant Jayne MacDonald, who was the first ‘non-prostitute’ victim. 

Sutcliffe spotted her in the early hours of the morning in Leeds and followed her into an adventure playground, where he struck her with a hammer on the back of the head. After she fell down, he then dragged her, face down, into the play areas and stabbed her several times in the chest and back.

On October 1, 1977, with his crimes rapidly escalating, Sutcliffe killed 20-year-old prostitute Jean Jordan, his first victim in Manchester. He beat her 11 times with a hammer in allotments next to Southern Cemetery, dumped her body and threw her bag, containing a brand new £5 note he gave her, into nearby shrubs. 

Police found the bag and traced the serial number on the note back to the payroll of Yorkshire hauliers T and W H Clark, who employed Peter Sutcliffe, but when questioned he provided an alibi that he was at a party – in the first of a series of missed opportunities by police to snare him.

Harrowing: In May, a victim of Peter Sutcliffe – Marcella Claxton (pictured left as a young woman) looked on as a TV crew shot the drama on her street in Leeds. She survived a heinous attack by Sutcliffe (right) five years before he was caught

Young prostitute Yvonne Pearson, 21, was murdered on January 21, 1978. Sutcliffe took her to a piece of waste ground at the back of Drummond’s mill in Bradford, where his father worked. There he hit her several times with a hammer. He pulled her body behind an old sofa, stuffed horsehair down her throat before kicking her in the head and jumping down on her chest. 

Sutcliffe was to kill three women in 1978. Ten days after Yvonne’s murder, he killed teenage prostitute Helen Rytka, 18. He beat her with a hammer several times but she remained alive until he grabbed a knife and stabbed her multiple times.

On May 16, he killed 40-year-old prostitute Vera Millward in Manchester. He took her Manchester Royal Infirmary where he attacked her with a hammer as soon as she got out the car. After killing her with the hammer blows, he then dragged her body to a spot by a fence and began to stab her with a knife.

Building society clerk Josephine Whitaker, 19, was murdered on April 4, 1979. She was approached by Sutcliffe in Savile Park, Halifax where they got chatting. He hit her from behind with a hammer and again as she lay on the ground before dragging her into the darkness after hearing voices. He then stabbed her 21 times with a screwdriver in the chest and stomach as well as in the leg. Her skull had been fractured from ear to ear. 

University student Barbara Leach, 20, was killed on September 20, 1979. He spotted her while driving in Bradford and opened the car door to get out as she was walking towards him. He attacked her with a hammer and dragged her into a back yard, before stabbing her with the same screwdriver that he had used on Josephine Whitaker. 

 He was arrested for drink-driving in April 1980 but while awaiting trial committed two more murders.

On August 20 1980, he murdered civil servant Marguerite Wells, 47.  After spotting her in Leeds, he attacked her with a hammer blow, yelling ‘filthy prostitute’. He then looped rope around her neck and dragged her into a garden when he would strangle her and strip her of all her clothing except her tights. He partially covered the body with grass cuttings and leaves before making his escape. 

The Ripper’s final victim was student Jacqueline Hill, 20, who was killed on November 17, 1980. An English student at Leeds University, Jacqueline Hill had taken the bus home from a meeting with probation service workers where she had applied to become a volunteer. 

Sutcliffe spotted and followed her before delivering a blow to her head as she was passing an opening.  Her body was discovered on a stretch of wasteland 100 yards from where she lived. She suffered four skull fractures and cuts to her head, a stab wound to her left breast and a stab wound to her right eye.      

Sutcliffe avoided detection for years due to a series of missed opportunities by police and eventually confessed in 1981 when he was brought in due to a police check discovering stolen number plates on his car. 

He was questioned in relation to the Yorkshire Ripper case as he matched many of the known physical characteristics. The next day police returned to the scene of the arrest in Broomhill, Sheffield and discovered a knife, hammer, and rope he had discarded. Sutcliffe also hid a second knife in the toilet cistern at the police station.

After two days of questioning, on January 4 1981, he suddenly confessed he was the Yorkshire Ripper and described the attacks. Weeks later he claimed God had told him to murder the women and branded his victims ‘filth.’

Despite his 24-hour-long confession to the killings, Sutcliffe denied the murders when indicted at court. He pleaded guilty to seven charges of attempted murder.

In May 1981, he was jailed for 20 life terms at the Old Bailey, with the judge recommending a minimum sentence of 30 years.

He was transferred from Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight to Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire in 1984 after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

More than two decades later, a secret report revealed that Sutcliffe probably committed more crimes than the 13 murders and seven attempted murders for which he was convicted.  

And he said he was questioned in prison about 16 unsolved cases – although no further charges were ever brought.

He died of Covid in prison in November 2020 aged 74. 

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