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Everything We Know About New BBC Drama 'Four Lives'

Everything We Know About New BBC Drama 'Four Lives'

Four Lives, the upcoming BBC drama based on the chilling murders of Stephen John Port, better known as The Grindr Killer, is coming soon.

It will tell the story of the serial killer, who murdered four men, Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor between 2014 and 2015, from the perspectives of the families of the victims.

According to the BBC: "The factual drama will go beneath the headlines to shed new light on this story by telling it from the point of view of the families of Stephen Port's victims, focusing on their fight to uncover the truth about what had happened to their lost sons and brothers in the face of a now widely criticised police investigation."

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Here's everything we know so far...

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Stephen Port's victims Daniel Whitworth, 21, Jack Taylor, 25, Anthony Walgate, 23, and Gabriel Kovari, 22 (Credit: PA)
Stephen Port's victims Daniel Whitworth, 21, Jack Taylor, 25, Anthony Walgate, 23, and Gabriel Kovari, 22 (Credit: PA)

Why was the name changed to Four Lives?

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The series - produced by Jeff Pope and Neil McKay - was to be called The Barking Murders after the location where the murders were committed.

However, producers decided to change the names in order to honour the four lives that were lost and their families.

"With a title like The Barking Murders, the creators thought it might have sounded too much like a conventional police procedure drama," a source told The Sun.

"The show is very much about the four young lives snuffed out and the deaths that could have been prevented."

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What do we know about Port's crimes?

Better known as The Grindr Killer for his M.O of meeting men on dating apps, Stephen Port would spike men with date rape drug GHB before raping them in his flat in Barking, East London.

Port did this on twelve known occasions, four of which he administered a fatal dose, killing the men. His victims were Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor.

Stephen John Port, better known as 'The Grindr Killer', killed four men between 2014 and 2015 (Credit: PA)
Stephen John Port, better known as 'The Grindr Killer', killed four men between 2014 and 2015 (Credit: PA)
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In late summer in 2014, the bodies of two men were found in a church graveyard in Barking, just two weeks apart by the same dog walker. They were the bodies of Gabriel Kovari and Daniel Whitworth.

Gabriel, 22, was Slovakian and had just moved to London from Spain in the spring of 2014. He had been living with John Pape, who had offered up his spare room in south London.

However, on 23 August 2014, after six weeks, Gabriel decided to move out, insisting he'd found new accommodation in Barking.

A day after moving into his new flat, Gabriel text a friend about his new landlord, saying: "I sleep in the living room on the sofa. I don't want to sleep with him in his bed."

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Gabriel's body was found in the graveyard on 28th August 2014.

The graveyard in Barking where three of Port's victims were found (Credit: PA)
The graveyard in Barking where three of Port's victims were found (Credit: PA)

Daniel Whitworth, 21, was a chef who lived in Kent with long-term boyfriend Ricky Waumsley. It was Waumsley who raised the alarm with police when he didn't come home one night.

His body was found on 20th September 2014.

The police deemed the deaths non-suspicious: a suicide note found in the hand of Daniel explained what had happened to the two men. They'd taken drugs during sex and Gabriel had died. Consumed with guilt, Daniel had decided to take his own life by a drug overdose.

A caveat read: "BTW Please do not blame the guy I was with last night, we only had sex then I left, he knows nothing of what I have done." Police didn't investigate who the mystery man was, and left the case closed.

The 'suicide note' found by Daniel Whitworth's body (Credit: PA)
The 'suicide note' found by Daniel Whitworth's body (Credit: PA)

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A year later in September 2015, another body was found propped up by the side of the churchyard wall, a stone's throw from where Daniel and Gabriel were found.

It was the body of young gay man Jack Taylor, who had also been found to have taken a lethal dose of GBH.

Jack was a 25-year old forklift driver from Dagenham. He had not been openly gay, so often used dating sites as a way to meet men.

His death was treated as non-suspicious by police and the result of an accidental overdose, but Jack's family did not accept this.

They learned the police had CCTV footage of Jack walking with a tall blonde man in the hours before his death and after weeks, they finally convinced the Met police to put the image in the paper.

The CCTV image of Port walking with Jack Taylor that lead to his arrest (Credit: PA)
The CCTV image of Port walking with Jack Taylor that lead to his arrest (Credit: PA)
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It was a Barking and Dagenham officer who realised the man in the image was someone they had already spoken to: Stephen Port.

Unbelievably, police had spoken to Port way before the churchyard victims were found, in relation to the death of another man, Anthony Walgate.

More than a year earlier, on Thursday 19th June 2014 at 4.18am, the ambulance received a call to alert them to a man who had apparently collapsed outside a block of flats on Cooke Street, Barking.

"There's a young boy, looks like he's collapsed outside," the caller said, guessing he could have had a seizure or been drunk.

Police arrived to find Anthony Walgate, an aspiring fashion designer, dead.

The calls as made by Port who had told police he'd found the young man lying there after returning from a night shift.

Anthony had been escorting and had told friends about a man he was going to meet in Barking, sending them pictures of him as a precaution.

Port was pulled in by place and questioned, telling them Walgate had come over and taken drugs before the pair had sex. Port admitted he'd returned home from work to find Anthony rigid in his bed, so panicked and carried him outside before calling police.

Police took DNA evidence from Port and seized his laptop.

Port's profile on 'Gaydar' which was shown to the jury at at Old Bailey, London during his trial (Credit: PA)
Port's profile on 'Gaydar' which was shown to the jury at at Old Bailey, London during his trial (Credit: PA)

Port was put on bail for perverting the course of justice but was never suspected to be a murderer. During this time, he went on to kill Gabriel, Daniel and Jack.

Police never examined the laptop they seized from Port. If they had, they would have found recent searches including "sleeping boy", "unconscious boys", "drugged and raped", "taking date rape drug", "gay teen knocked out raped" and "guy raped and tortured young nude boy".

On 18th October 2015, Port was charged with four counts of murder.

During the media coverage on his case, eight came forward to describe how the had been drugged and raped at his flat.

Who is cast in Four Lives?

In a departure from his usual comedic roles, Stephen Merchant will portray the serial killer.

Stephen Merchant called it a "privilege" to play the role, saying: "This is a story that can't be ignored - how four young lives were lost and their families' brave attempt to uncover what happened.

Stephen Merchant will play the killer (Credit: PA)
Stephen Merchant will play the killer (Credit: PA)

"This factual drama will shed light on their story, so it's a privilege to be a part of telling it with the brilliant combination of Jeff Pope, Neil McKay and the BBC."

Sheridan Smith will play Sarah Sak, the mother of one of Port's victims, Anthony Walgate, and other cast members including Jaime Winstone, Rufus Jones and Stephanie Hyam.

Sheridan Smith will play the mother of one of Port's victims, Anthony Walgate (Credit: BBC)
Sheridan Smith will play the mother of one of Port's victims, Anthony Walgate (Credit: BBC)

When is Four Lives coming?

The drama was first ordered by the BBC in 2017 and announced in August 2018. It was expected to be released later that year, but has experienced significant scheduling delays.

There's no date as yet when Four Lives is coming to screens (apart from that it's some time this year), but Tyla has reached out to BBC for comment.

Stay tuned.

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: Entertainment, TV and Film

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Ciara Sheppard

Ciara is a freelance writer working for Tyla. After graduating with an English Lit and Media degree from the University of Sussex, Ciara held jobs at GLAMOUR and Yahoo Style before packing up for a solo travelling trip around South America.