Following each episode of Katherine Kelly's TV series Murdertown, Benjamin Fitton from They Walk Among Us (TWAU) unpicks a new case from each Murdertown.
Now in its second series, the Murdertown podcast has attracted loyal listeners from fans the TV show to people who want to discover more about the dark side of Britain's towns and cities.
CI sat down with Ben to talk about Murdertown and to find out what's it like running not one but two highly successful true crime podcasts.
Has anyone ever recognised your voice from your podcast?
Not often. Someone at my old job did after listening to the podcast. I keep a relatively low profile most of the time.
What's your favourite part of the podcasting process?
Definitely editing. Its place where you can see all of the pieces of the puzzle come together.
When did you see your listens really pick up? Was there anything in particular that triggered it?
I think it was around 'Season 1 - Episode 6' (The disappearance of Shannon Matthews). We were lucky enough to be featured in the new and noteworthy section on Apple Podcasts, and it exploded from there. It was something we were not expecting as when the podcast started, we initially got about seven downloads when the first episode was released.
We love your series artwork! Tell us about that…
My wife Rosie (Rosanna) draws the artwork every week for the podcast. It's always a visual hint to what the episode will be about. We number the episodes rather than name them so the case can unravel without the title divulging whats it's about.
Have you ever covered a case that made you feel uncomfortable?
Every single case has an element where it has made me uncomfortable for one reason or another. A case that springs to mind features in a chapter of our book -- The Fox rapist and home invader. There is little more unsettling than not feeling safe in your own home.
What's next for TWAU?
There are some exciting projects on the horizon, but we are in the early stages so can't say too much about it at the moment. We produce an episode a week so TWAU leaves little time to expand as much as we'd like.
Why did you choose to host the Murdertown podcast?
It was an incredible offer to work with Crime and Investigation. After I had seen the first couple episodes of the TV show, I was really eager to get on board.
Which Murdertown case made your jaw drop?
I recently recorded an episode of the Murdertown podcast which is going to be released as an extra episode after the series ends. While I don't want to say too much, its a case from Blackpool which saw a multiple-murderer go undetected for nearly half a decade. After a break-in and assault in 1974, the intruder returns to the home of an elderly victim, attacking her again some 14 years later. Absolutely terrifying.
What've you learnt by working with Murdertown scriptwriter, Anna Priestland ?
Anna is a joy to work with. She is so dynamic with all the projects she takes on. I think one of the main things I've picked up from her is to try and step out of your comfort zone sometimes.
What are your top 5 podcast recommendations?
It's hard to pick a top five, perhaps it's fairer to list the last five I've listened to. Criminal has been a stable listen for years. Every episode is fascinating. The host, Phoebe Judge, really draws you into a story. When the Criminal team launched a second podcast, This is Love, unsurprisingly it didn't disappoint. Its a good pause from true crime. Court Junkie is another consistent podcast in my catalogue -- it follows US court cases using audio and narration. It's fascinating how American law differs from UK law. I picked up Atlanta Monster recently because I had watched Mindhunter, and wanted to know more about the Atlanta Child Murders and the man convicted of them, Wayne Bertram Williams. The fifth is another British true-crime podcast, Murder Mile. Mike, the host, runs the Murder Mile tour in London and his podcast is based on that. We went on tour, and he brings so much enthusiasm and great research to both.
What's your favourite true-crime TV series/documentary?
I think I mentioned Mindhunter in the question above and series two was flawless. Some of the classic documentaries that continue to stick with me are the Jinx and Dear Zachary, the latter is an incredibly heartbreaking and well-made documentary. Obviously, I've just started Murdertown season two, and I can't wait for each episode.
What's the future of podcasting?
I'm not sure, and that's partly what's exciting about it. Podcasting has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. I hope that continues. More and more people are discovering what podcasts are. There's a podcast out there for everyone.