Sheridan Smith to star in new BBC One drama The Barking Murders

Sheridan Smith

There's a new BBC One drama in the pipeline, with Stephen Merchant and Sheridan Smith taking the lead roles...

It has been announced that Stephen Merchant and Sheridan Smith will star in new BBC One drama The Barking Murders, which is due to commence filming this spring.

This new factual drama will go beneath the headlines to shed new light on this real-life story by telling it from the point of view of the families of Stephen Port’s victims.

It will be focusing on their fight to uncover the truth about what had happened to their lost sons and brothers in the face of a now widely criticised police investigation.

Stephen Port drugged and murdered four young men, Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor, who he met on a dating app.

He will spend the rest of life in prison after receiving a whole-life sentence at the Old Bailey in 2016.

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Stephen Merchant has be cast to play killer Stephen Port

Actress Sheridan Smith, who is famous for her roles in Mrs Biggs, Cilla, The Moorside and most recently, Cleaning Up, will play Sarah Sak, the mother of victim Anthony Walgate.

Stephen Merchant who is best remembered for his roles in Extras and The Office will play serial killer Stephen Port in the highly anticipated drama.

Another famous face, Jamie Winstone, will also be joining the cast as Donna Taylor, one of the sisters of another of Stephen's victims, Jack Taylor.

On joining the cast, Stephen Merchant says: "This is a story that can’t be ignored - how four young lives were lost and their families’ brave attempt to uncover what happened.

"This factual drama will shed light on their story, so it’s a privilege to be a part of telling it with the brilliant combination of Jeff Pope, Neil McKay and the BBC."

Sheridan Smith adds: "I love playing real life characters - especially an inspirational woman like Sarah Sak - but with it comes responsibility.

Sheridan Smith

Sheridan Smith will play Sarah Sak, the mother of victim Anthony Walgate

"Along with the other families, Sarah went through so much heartache and it would have been easy for her to just accept what she was being told by the police, but something inside made her keep fighting for her son."

Picture credits: Main image and Stephen Merchant image: PA Images, Press Association Images and Sheridan image by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.