REVIEW: Crimes That Shook Britain tackles horrific murder of EastEnders actor
Crimes That Shook Britain is one of the most aptly-titled television documentaries there is. In the eighth season of the show, the series continues to shock and captivate its audience with its tried and tested formula of dramatic retellings of truly heinous cases.
The story of Gemma McCluskie is well known. A former EastEnders actor, the story of her disappearance hit headlines in March 2012. The news took a gruesome turn when her headless and limbless torso was discovered in a London canal and her brother was charged with the cold-blooded murder. It was a horrifying murder of a person that millions of British people were familiar with.
Complete with a well-paced reconstruction, interviews with family, friends and people connected with the investigation and police recordings, Crimes That Shook Britain is a well-polished examination of the worst of humanity. It uses its huge amount of information surprisingly sparingly and often to agonising effect.
What many crime documentaries tend to do is disassociate the crime from the audience. It is easy for an act of such a heinous nature to feel very far removed from the average viewer. However, recreating the story as it happened and some heartbreaking recollections from family members mean this story is still as painful as it was in 2012. It’s an absolutely shocking case, where knowing the outcome does not make it any easier to watch.
Crimes That Shook Britain is fascinating and morbid television. It’s a crime documentary series that is amongst the best of its genre, showcasing high production values and an ability to delve into the heart of a case and elicit an emotional response from the viewer. This is excellent television.