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The Harrowing True Story Behind New ITV Drama 'White House Farm'

The Harrowing True Story Behind New ITV Drama 'White House Farm'

Last night, new TV drama, White House Farm, which is based on the true story of a mass murder in Essex, aired on ITV.

The drama follows the story of Nevill and June Bamber, who were shot dead in their farmhouse along with their adoptive daughter, Sheila Caffell and her six-year-old twins, Daniel and Nicholas, who were killed while they slept.

The first episode of the six-part series gripped the nation yesterday evening, but what's the true story behind the family's devastating deaths?

The drama started last night on ITV (Credit: ITV)
The drama started last night on ITV (Credit: ITV)
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It was on 7th August 1985 when police were first alerted to a shooting at White House Farm, by a 24-year-old man named Jeremy Bamber, Sheila's brother.

He phoned Chelmsford Police Station and told them he had received a phone call from his dad, Nevill, who had told him: "Your sister's gone crazy and she's got a gun."

Influenced by the initial phone call, police considered Sheila - whose body was found holding a pistol - to be the main suspect.

Sheila, a former model, had been suffering from schizophrenia during the time of the killings and many considered the tragedy to be a case of murder-suicide.

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But it was Colin Caffell - Sheila's ex-husband and the father of her boys - who first raised suspicions over Bamber, his former brother-in-law.

It was at the funeral of Bamber's parents and sister that others became concerned about his behaviour, too.

Footage from a news broadcast at the time shows a devastated and devoted brother and son, who had lost his entire family - but when the cameras stopped rolling, Colin said it was a very different story.

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In his 1994 book, In Search of the Rainbow's End, Colin wrote: "Jeremy started cracking jokes and laughing [...] He couldn't wait to get back to the house with Julie [his girlfriend] and have some fun."

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Many were suspicious over Bamber's behaviour (Credit: PA)
Many were suspicious over Bamber's behaviour (Credit: PA)

It wasn't just Colin who had concerns, with actor Mary Addy (who plays Detective Sergeant Stan Jones in the drama) explaining he had also watched the footage.

"I remember seeing Jeremy Bamber at the funeral and feeling uneasy about the way he was behaving," he said.

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It was also reported that on the day of the funeral, Bamber came down the stairs in a Hugo Boss suit explaining: "Boss. That's what I am from now on."

Bamber tried to sell images of his sister to The Sun (Credit: Shutterstock)
Bamber tried to sell images of his sister to The Sun (Credit: Shutterstock)
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Perhaps one of the most shocking and alarming moves by Bamber occurred weeks later, when he contacted The Sun in attempts to sell topless shots of sister, Shelia.

The paper ended up running a story about his enquiry, instead.

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Weeks later and Bamber's (then ex) girlfriend Julie turned the entire case around after admitting to the police that her ex had spoken about murdering his entire family to inherit the farm.

"It's tonight or never," he is alleged to have told her on the night of the crime.

Cressida Bonas stars as Sheila (Credit: ITV)
Cressida Bonas stars as Sheila (Credit: ITV)

In 1986, Bamber was found guilty on all five counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison, without the chance of parole.

Now 58 years old, Bamber is still alive and living in HM Prison Wakefield, in Yorkshire.

The second episode of White House Farm airs on ITV on Wednesday 15th January at 9pm.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Real, TV News, TV Entertainment

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Lucy Devine

Lucy is a journalist working for Tyla. After graduating with a master's degree in journalism, she has worked in both print and online and is particularly interested in fashion, food, health and women's issues. Northerner, coffee addict, says hun a lot. Get in touch at [email protected]