BBC Commissions Historical Crime Series ‘My Grandad Was Innocent’

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23 Jun 17
BBC Commissions Historical-Crime Series 'My Grandad Was Innocent'

BBC Commissions Historical-Crime Series ‘My Grandad Was Innocent’

BBC One has commissioned a new historical crime series called My Grandad Was Innocent the channel announced today.

The factual format appears to be a sort of cross between ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and a historical version of ‘Crimewatch’, where two top criminal barristers, Sasha Wass and Jeremy Dein, investigate historical murders where the convicted went to the gallows pleading their innocence. They join forces with a living member of the convicted criminal’s family to re-examine the crime and evidence, employing modern forensic techniques to ask whether the original conviction was safe.

“This series is based on an ambitious and powerful idea,” commentsDan McGolpin, Controller BBC Programming and Daytime. “Ten families who believe that their relative may have been falsely convicted of murder and hanged will get the opportunity to clear their name.”

Between 1900 and 1964, 845 men and 18 women were hanged in the British Isles and a further 5,960 people found guilty of murder and given life sentences. Of these cases, 2,738 were referred to the Court of Appeal. Going back over original police files and trial documentation, the barrister-presenters identify crimes that bear the hallmarks of miscarriages of justice. The pair examine every detail of the case, piecing together the evidence to create a complete picture of the crime and a profile of personalities involved. They then draw on the knowledge of medical and forensic experts, the police, local history experts and crime writers to interpret their findings and prepare a final submission for the courts.


“We’re hugely proud of this show,” adds Mike Benson, director of Chalkboard, who are making the series. “There are thousands of historic cases where individuals were sent to their death on purely circumstantial evidence and we are giving the families of these individuals a chance to re-examine the evidence through a modern, forensic prism. The crack team we’ve brought together to investigate these cases will use scientific tools and techniques such as DNA and ballistics to uncover the truth about historical crimes. It’s riveting television, but it’s more than just compulsive drama – ‘My Grandad Was Innocent’ has the potential to right wrongs, set the record straight and hold the criminal-justice system to account.”

My Grandad Was Innocent‘ will air on BBC One in Early 2018.