The Yorkshire Ripper - essential guide to new true crime drama ordered by ITV following success of Des

David Tennant in "Des" on ITV.
(Image credit: ITV)

The Yorkshire Ripper is a new true-crime drama about the infamous serial killer ordered by ITV following the huge success of Des.

More than 10 million viewers tuned into Des, which saw former Doctor Who star David Tennant play serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who killed at least 12 men in London in the 1970s and 1980s.

Now, the makers of Des and another true crime drama, White House Farm, are turning their attention to the Yorkshire Ripper.

The Yorkshire Ripper — what is it about?

The true-crime drama will depict one of the most shocking serial killer cases in the world — the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe, who was dubbed the "Yorkshire Ripper" by the media.

Between October 1975 and January 1981, the police undertook one of the biggest manhunts in British criminal history as they searched for Sutcliffe. 

The hunt involved more than a thousand police offers and changed the way the British police force worked forever. The drama will also focus on the lives of the victims who fatally crossed paths with the murderer.

It’s based on Michael Bilton’s book, Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper and has been written by acclaimed screenwriter George Kay.

Director Paul Whittington (White House Farm) said: "By placing the victims, their families and the survivors at the heart of this story, George has crafted an excavation of British social history that goes far beyond the infamy. 

"His writing sensitively reveals and humanizes the untold number of lives devastated by these crimes, and powerfully exposes the enduring legacy of the failings of the biggest manhunt in British criminal history. 

"This is a vital story about class prejudice, pervasive and entrenched societal sexism and women simply not being heard that still has relevance today."

Peter Sutcliffe is currently serving serving life in prison for the murder of 13 victims and the attempted murder of seven others.

The Yorkshire Ripper release date

ITV has yet to announce when the six-part drama will be shown. But it is expected to air in 2021.

Who’s in the cast?

The drama is still in very early stages of production and a cast is yet to be announced. We will update this story when the casting is revealed.

What else do we know?

ITV says this will be the first "definitive account of a case that shook Britain" and draws on a huge archive of material, comprising of hundreds of case files. 

The Yorkshire Ripper will be produced by New Pictures, the people who brought us Des and White House Farm.

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years on TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer on TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!