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Once Upon a True Crime: Episode Guide

Denise Mina in a pub with a picture of Peter Manuel
Image: Once Upon A True Crime

Four of Britain’s best-known crime writers turn detective in a brand-new series Once Upon a True Crime, exclusive to Crime + Investigation. Featuring Peter James, Denise Mina, Mark Billingham, and Douglas Skelton, the show investigates the real-life murders that inspired some of the acclaimed authors’ most famous novels.

In each episode, the writers retrace the steps of the killers and victims, taking viewers through every twist and turn in the story. With unprecedented access to experts, witnesses, and journalists that covered each case, the murders are pieced together and new, untested theories surface in an attempt to resolve mysteries that remain.

Viewers are able to catch up on any episodes they've missed on C+I PLAY.

Episode 1: The Babes in the Wood Murders with Peter James - 25th April

Brighton-born master storyteller Peter James revisits his home city where two nine-year-old girls mysteriously disappeared in October 1986 and their bodies discovered in a local park the next day.

With the help from the cases' lead police investigators, James unravels how officers came to suspect Russell Bishop as the killer, who sensationally walked free after the trial. His name resurfaced three years later when eerily similar circumstances occurred to a seven-year-old girl who survived. This episode takes viewers on the gruelling 30-year fight for justice.

Episode 2: The Moors Murders with Mark Billingham - 2nd May

In this episode, best-selling author Mark Billingham takes a fresh look at two of Britain’s most infamous serial killers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, who murdered five children between 1963 and 1965.

Sentenced to life imprisonment, Brady and Hindley were masters at staying in the public eye even behind bars. Astonishingly, the pair were allowed to communicate whilst imprisoned and they both also corresponded with journalists and supporters in the outside world. Billingham unravels the couple’s twisted relationship, from loving devotion to bitter hatred.

Episode 3: The Peter Manuel Murders with Denise Mina - 9th May

In the mid-1950s, one of Scotland’s most notorious killers Peter Manuel terrorised the city of Glasgow in which he brutally murdered several women during a two-year killing spree.

Crime-writer Denise Mina unearths the story of a man who killed without conscience and delves into an unusual relationship between Manuel and William Watt, whose family was murdered by the serial killer.

Episode 4: The Ice Cream Murders with Douglas Skelton - 16th May

Best-selling crime writer Douglas Skelton revisits the unsolved Ice Cream Murders case, which occurred during the early 1980s. At a time when poverty was rife in the city and fuelled violence, rival ice cream van crews battled for control over the territories in Glasgow’s East End. What began with slashed tyres and smashed windscreens escalated into a horrific mass murder, with an arson attack that killed a family of six.

Skelton delves into the tensions between the gangs, a 20-year battle to prove the innocence of two men convicted, and the unsolved case that still haunts Glasgow.