In the new season of Murdertown, TV and radio broadcaster, Anita Rani visits towns and local communities where unforgettable crimes took place to re-tell the tragic stories and shed new light on how lives and places are changed forever.
Crime+Investigation spoke to Anita about the new series and whether it made her feel differently about crime in Britain.
Are you looking forward to making your Crime+Investigation debut?
Absolutely. What an honour to be asked to host one of the most popular series and what an opportunity for me to do a true crime series that I love watching.
What made you want to take part in the series?
I am fascinated by true crime like everybody. We are a nation obsessed with murder, and what makes people commit those horrendous crimes. But the reason I wanted to be involved in Murdertown is because of the nature of the programme and the way the crimes are dealt with.
The story is looked at from every angle, from the community it’s affected, the family of the people involved to how the perpetrators were brought to justice. The cases are dealt with incredibly sensitively but it's also very gripping to watch on a very basic TV level. The storytelling is done so well.
The series focuses on murder cases from all over the UK from Milton Keynes to Whitby but which stands out for you and why?
Every single case has stayed with me. The Milton Keynes episode stands out for me because there was a miscarriage of justice. But then because of the change in the DNA database, the right perpetrator was brought to justice. That stuck with me because not only was there the victim, Rachel Manning, her boyfriend [Bari White] and his friend [Keith Hyatt] were sent down for four years. That impact on their lives is very tragic. And then there's Whitby which is a place I have visited. It is an idyllic harbour in Yorkshire and one of my favourite places on earth. So that case stuck with me because you just don't know where these things can happen. It's absolutely anywhere.
Location is centre stage in Murdertown, did it make you think differently about the UK and what goes on behind closed doors?
I'm really lucky I get to travel the UK for my work. Whitby for instance could be a location for several programmes, but with Murdertown I'm seeing it with a completely different lens.
I think the reason why we are fascinated by true crime is that murders happen. We have this capacity to commit these terrible crimes, and they can happen anywhere in the prettiest of places. like in the Southampton episode. We were in Beaulieu which is a picture-perfect affluent, part of the world where you'd never think a murder could happen. And yet, a woman, Pennie Davis was murdered while out riding her horse.
You grew up in Bradford, would you like to visit your home town as part of the series?
I grew up in Bradford in the shadow of the Yorkshire Ripper, so I know what it's like to live in a place in the shadow of a murderer. The ripple effects of what Peter Sutcliffe did ran through everywhere in Bradford.
Having focussed on these ten cases in the series do you think Britain is a violent place?
I'm definitely an optimistic person who really sees the good in humanity. I don't think we should live in fear. I think we need to ask questions about society. Post Sarah Everard women are now speaking out about how we feel and how unsafe we have felt historically. I don't think we can, we can live in constant fear. That's not a healthy way to live life.