In the Footsteps of Killers review – Emilia Fox’s disrespectful crime show will make your soul recoil
Real-life cold cases are pointlessly raked over by criminologists and – for some reason – the Silent Witness actor in a show that makes you feel like you’re being spat on
When the gulf between subject matter and approach is as wide as it is with In the Footsteps of Killers (Channel 4), it is hard not to get the ick. That’s a technical critical term, but I hope you understand. It’s when the soul recoils instinctively, like a snail touching salt. The lip curls, the eyes narrow and the hand reaches for the remote control.
The subject matter is cold cases, where someone was abducted or killed but the perpetrators were never caught. The first series – of three programmes, this second series comprises six – covered the 1967 murder of 19-year-old servicewoman Rita Ellis along with the 1986 disappearances of Patrick Warren and David Spencer – “the Milk Carton Kids” – and Suzy Lamplugh. As with the new series, they are investigated – if that is the word – by criminology professor David Wilson, whose MO seems to be to recap the events, tut over what could have been done better, bemoan the lack of forensic technology in the past and identify the prime suspect as someone the police interviewed at the time but never had enough evidence to prosecute. Emilia Fox is there, too, to react to the recapping and bemoaning, ask tortuously scripted questions and look suitably tragic about the whole abducted children/murdered women thing, and because she plays a forensic psychologist in the long-running drama Silent Witness.