Crimewatch, the BBC’s enduring crime reconstruction programme, is being axed 30-plus years after first arriving on our screens.
No new editions of the show will be made, although its spin-off series will continue.
Pioneering upon its introduction, Crimewatch effectively brought dozens, if not hundreds, of criminals to justice. Using actors, it famously restaged crime events in the hope of eliciting new information from members of the watching public. Data-sharing via interactive TV participation was ground-breaking and Crimewatch became a mid/late-night viewing staple.
With Crimewatch gone, the daytime-shown Crimewatch Roadshow will remain on TV, seemingly because it’s better suited to today’s viewers. “We believe the successful Crimewatch Roadshow format in daytime is the best fit for the brand going forward and we will increase the number of episodes to make two series a year”, states a BBC representative, in comments the ‘Independent’ quotes. “We are incredibly proud of Crimewatch and the great work it has done over the years and the work Crimewatch Roadshow will continue to do, and this move will also allow us to create room for new innovative programmes in peak time on BBC One.”
Famous Crimewatch Cases
“Don’t have nightmares – do sleep well”. It was with these words that long-serving Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross closed each show. There from the outset, Ross remained at the helm until 2007. His late-1990s co-presenter was Jill Dando. In 1999, Dando was murdered on her own doorstep, ironically then herself becoming a Crimewatch case.
There were many other famous Crimewatch cases, including:
- Colette Aram’s murder – Crimewatch’s very first featured case. This remained unsolved for 25 years, killer Paul Stewart Hutchinson only being charged, then life-sentenced, once forensic technology had become advanced enough to DNA-profile him.
- Two-year-old boy James Bulger’s murder, that then 10-year-olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables carried out. Chilling CCTV footage shown on Crimewatch of the pair leading Bulger by the hand led to their identities being discovered
- Teenage schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s murder, of 22 March 2002. That Dowler had been murdered (she was strangled to death) wasn’t then known: Crimewatch’s report was based on her abduction and sought her safe return.
- Eight-year-old girl Sarah Payne’s murder, that Crimewatch featured twice, both times mentioning Roy Whiting’s name. Whiting was later given a life imprisonment sentence.
- Countless others featured, too, including the murders of Stephen Lawrence, Rachel Nickell and Damilola Taylor plus the disappearance of Madeleine McCann: perhaps the world’s most infamous missing-person case.
End of Crimewatch
At first, Crimewatch was broadcast once-monthly but became, in its final incarnation, a weekly programme. The very last Crimewatch episode went out on 20 March 2017.
The decision to end Crimewatch is believed to have been viewing figures-based. “It is a shame as Crimewatch has been brilliant at allowing forces airtime to a wide audience”, Police Federation operational policing head, Simon Kempton, comments. “I have seen first-hand how dedicated the team are who put it together – they built really strong relationships with the various investigation teams and genuinely cared about what they were doing.”
“Crimewatch”, Kempton concludes, “helped to raise the profile of thousands of incidents over the years as well as show the public the complex side of policing and solve crime.”
Nick Ross image copyright ‘Markcovey-fox’ – courtesy Wikimedia Commons. James Bulger abduction image copyright unknown – courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Both used as per Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license