Can you even call yourself a true crime buff if you don’t listen to podcasts? There are certainly plenty of them out there, each of them painstakingly untangling crimes that are both infamous and obscure.
To guide you through this very crowded field, we’re presenting a handpicked list of podcasts about cases that are specific to locations across the British Isles.
Glasgow – Bible John: Creation of a Serial Killer
In the late 1960s, a Glasgow dance hall called the Barrowland Ballroom became the stalking ground of a serial killer. We know he operated with unusual audacity, socialising with victims before taking them somewhere quiet to murder them. We know he liked to quote scripture, which is why newspapers gave him the memorable moniker, ‘Bible John’. But what we don’t know is who he was or what became of him.
In this sprawling podcast, journalist Audrey Gillan – who grew up in Glasgow – explores the case that’s loomed large throughout her life. Featuring testimonies from those who knew the victims, and Audrey’s own insights from personally covering the investigation, it’s a haunting and unmissable experience.
Cheshire – Can I Tell You a Secret?
Cyberstalking is one of the plagues of the social media age, but – in a world that’s positively swarming with online creeps – Matthew Hardy somehow manages to stand apart. In the Can I Tell You a Secret? podcast, so named because that was how Hardy would open chats with his victims online, journalist Sirin Kale goes to Hardy’s hometown in Cheshire to meet some of the people he terrorised.
The sheer vindictiveness of Hardy, his sadistic dedication to catfishing and impersonating his victims, instilling paranoia and wrecking their relationships with friends and family, makes this one of the most downright gobsmacking podcasts you’ll ever listen to.
County Cork – West Cork
Focusing on the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a French TV producer who was found brutally beaten outside her holiday cottage in County Cork in 1996, West Cork is more than the story of a murder. It’s a profound examination of how violence can affect a place and its people.
It’s also the story of the man widely suspected of being the killer – a man who was convicted in a French court in absentia, but who has managed to avoid being extradited from Ireland and still maintains his innocence to this day. It’s fair to say that few, if any, murder cases have unfolded quite like this one.
London – Sweet Bobby
‘Bobby targeted every part of my life – my career, my dreams, my hopes.’ These are the powerful words of Kirat Assi, a London-based radio presenter who fell victim to a catfishing plot of epic proportions. ‘Bobby’ was, as far as Kirat knew, a handsome cardiologist with whom she developed an online romance. But, as it turned out, Bobby was not who he said he was.
Kirat Assi’s experience almost defies belief – her catfisher created not just a fake persona, but a whole community of people who simply did not exist. Chronicling what happened to Kirat over many years, Sweet Bobby may be the definitive examination of catfishing and its devastating consequences.
Cardiff – Shreds: Murder in the Dock
On Valentine’s Day 1988, a young woman named Lynette White was knifed to death in a Cardiff flat. The discovery of her slashed body marked the start of one of the most notorious criminal cases in Welsh history. Five Black and mixed-heritage men would be wrongly charged with her murder, and the fallout would lead to the UK’s biggest-ever police corruption trial.
It’s a tragic story, expertly told by Cardiff journalist Ceri Dawn Jackson in a podcast that also paints a fascinating portrait of a now-vanished Cardiff and its marginalised communities.
Staffordshire – The Mysterious Case of Fred the Head
Way back in 1971, an off-duty police constable was going out for a day’s shooting in rural Staffordshire when he stumbled across what he thought was a buried bag of cement. It was, in fact, a dead body, buried in a kneeling position with its hands and ankles tied behind his back.
The identity of the victim, since dubbed ‘Fred the Head’, is one of the longest-running mysteries of modern British history. The best efforts of forensic scientists using facial reconstruction and familial DNA analysis have been in vain. But this hasn’t stopped amateur detective Ken Davies from attempting to unravel the facts, and his podcast charts every twist and turn of his dogged investigation across dozens of fascinating episodes.
Bath – Catching Melanie’s Killer
How do you snare a murderer more than three decades after he committed his atrocious act? Catching Melanie’s Killer tells precisely this story, shedding light on a shocking crime that became a seemingly hopeless cold case, before finally culminating in a conviction.
Teenage schoolgirl Melanie Road was walking home after a night out with friends when she was raped and stabbed 26 times. The absolute savagery of the murder rocked the genteel, picturesque city of Bath, yet – despite a desperate national manhunt – detectives failed to make a breakthrough. That is, until someone’s arrest for a minor crime, decades later, finally led investigators to the man they’d been hunting for so long.
Around the UK – Murdertown
Now into its third series, Crrime + Investigation's very own Murdertown podcast has detailed shocking crimes from every corner of the UK. Hosted by Benjamin Fitton, the unmistakable voice behind They Walk Among Us each episode shines a light on the perhaps forgotten crimes that have plagued local communities for years. From Southampton and Blackpool, to Inverinate and Cerrigydrudion, no town is too big or too small to be rocked by murder. Listen to S3 E1:Check out our true crime podcast hub for podcast features and interviews, plus full episodes of the Murdertown podcast.