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BBC Harold Shipman Doc 'The Shipman Files: A Very British Crime Story' Airs On Monday

BBC Harold Shipman Doc 'The Shipman Files: A Very British Crime Story' Airs On Monday

Many of us know the horrific story of Harold Shipman, the GP who killed hundreds of his patients over almost four decades.

Now, the BBC is bringing his crimes to our screens, looking at how he got away with so many brutal murders and speaking to his victims and their families about the devastating impact he had on people's lives.

Harold Shipman is thought to have killed hundreds (Credit: Shutterstock)
Harold Shipman is thought to have killed hundreds (Credit: Shutterstock)

The true crime documentary also examines the reason Shipman's murders may have slipped through the net for so long, questioning whether it's because of the society's tendency to ignore the issues facing old people.

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In the new doc, the channel say they wanted to "[focus] on the victims rather than the killer, to reveal a totally fresh perspective on the case."

Check out the trailer below:

The series picks up in Hyde, which is the small market town near Manchester where Dr Death worked for over 20 years.

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There, he was one of the town's most popular and well liked GPs for many years.

But suspicions begun to mount in 1998, after it emerged the will of a patient - former mayoress of Hyde, Kathleen Grundy - had changed shortly after her death.

Her cause of death had been listed as 'old age' by the doctor.

When the police exhumed the patient's body, a post-mortem revealed that she had actually been murdered with a fatal dose of diamorphine - which is a pure, medical-grade heroin.

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Just like that, Shipman became a prime murder suspect, and the rest of his crimes begun to unravel.

Almost all of Shipman's victims were elderly women (Credit: BBC Two)
Almost all of Shipman's victims were elderly women (Credit: BBC Two)

Looking at many of his other patients who had also recently died mysteriously, police managed to open a multiple murder investigation.

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It became obvious the doctor had been giving patients lethal doses of diamorphone then signing their death certificates and falsifying medical records so that nobody found out.

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Shipman stood trial for the murder of 15 of his former Hyde patients - almost all of whom were elderly women.

The doc will look into the lives of many of the women Shipman killed, revealing that many of them were fit and healthy before he lethally poisoned them.

The doc suggests old people were forgotten (Credit: BBC Two)
The doc suggests old people were forgotten (Credit: BBC Two)

They were frequently heavily involved within their communities, too.

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However, due to their age, Shipman was able to slyly pass off their deaths as natural causes without causing too much suspicion.

While the doctor was charged with 15 murders, the police had investigated over 100 other suspicious deaths, and he is believed to have been involved with many more than he was sent down for.

We'll hear from the victims' loved ones (Credit: BBC Two)
We'll hear from the victims' loved ones (Credit: BBC Two)

Director Chris Wilson, who also made doc The Ripper Files, said that the documentary helped uncover a poignant and troubling reason that Shipman's crimes remained undetected for so long.

"The big question is how does someone kill 200 to 300 people without anyone noticing? The received story is he got away with it because he was a doctor," he said.

"That was a massive part of it but I don't think that is why he was allowed to kill so many people.

"If he had tried to kill 250 30-somethings, he would have been stopped sooner. It says a lot about our prejudices and attitudes towards elderly people.

"Covid happened towards the end of filming and it is a very similar thing. Even now you hear, 'Yeah it just kills old people' - as if that is somehow OK or less important."

Shipman died from suicide in Wakefield Prison in 2004 the day before his 58th birthday.

The Shipman Files: A Very British Crime Story, airs on Monday (September 28th) at 9pm on BBC Two.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: True Crime, TV News, TV Entertainment

Joanna Freedman

Joanna is a journalist at Tyla with a particular interest in highlighting women's issues and telling inspiring first person stories. She's also their resident foodie, and loves covering exciting new beauty launches, too. Contact her at [email protected]