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What's coming up on Once Upon a True Crime

Douglas Skelton standing next to a black sports car
Image: Once Upon A True Crime

Crime + Investigation's brand-new show will see four of the UK's best-known crime writers turn detective, as they investigate the murders that inspired some of their most famous books. Featuring Peter James, Denise Mina, Mark Billingham, and Douglas Skelton, the four-part series will relive four chilling cases that each author cannot forget.

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.

Once Upon a True Crime airs Mondays at 9pm on Crime + Investigation at 9pm. Viewers can catch up on any episodes they've missed on Crime + Investigation PLAY.

Denise Mina guides viewers through the case of one of Scotland’s most notorious serial killers, Peter Manuel, which inspired her novel The Long Drop.

Nicknamed the ‘Beast of Birkenshaw,’ Manuel was convicted for the murders of seven people and hanged at Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison for his crimes; the second to last prisoner to die at the Barlinnie gallows before the death penalty was abolished in the UK. Mina also delves into an unusual relationship between Manuel and William Watt, whose family was murdered by the serial killer.

International best-seller, Peter James revisits the shocking, so-called Babes in the Wood murders in Brighton of 1986. The case of two young girls, Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows, who were sexually assaulted and killed became one of the largest and longest-running inquests in Sussex police history.

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.

Mark Billingham delves into the story of two of Britain’s most infamous serial killers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, whose killing of five children became renowned as the Moors Murders. 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, in his best-seller Their Little Secret which features his award-winning, fictional Detective Tom Thorne.

Scotsman Douglas Skelton also shares his knowledge on the notorious Ice Cream Wars, a tense gangland turf war that inspired his novel Blood City and still haunts Glasgow to this very day.

Skelton revisits the gritty scenes of 1980s Glasgow, where conflicts and corruption strained the city’s East End as rival criminal organisations competed to sell drugs and stolen goods from ice cream vans. What began with slashed tyres and smashed windscreens escalated into a horrific mass murder, with an arson attack that killed a family of six.