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The mistakes made in the Peter Sutcliffe search

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Police took six years to capture serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, and this was later partly blamed on a catalogue of mistakes made by the force at the time.

He murdered his first known victim in 1975. But it took the West Yorkshire Police until 1981 to arrest him for the crimes. In which time, he’d killed another 12 women, and attacked at least seven more.

Peter Sutcliffe’s crimes became one of Britain’s most notorious serial killer cases. And now the case has been dramatised for the first time by ITV. The Long Shadow is currently airing on Monday nights at 9pm.

And the makers behind the seven-part documentary have attempted to highlight the many mistakes made by the police in the search for Peter Sutcliffe…

Police investigating Peter Sutcliffe's crimes
Police investigating Peter Sutcliffe’s crimes (Credit: Daily Mail/Shutterstock)

Mistakes made in the Peter Sutcliffe case: The moniker The Yorkshire Ripper

While not unusual at that time, police gave the unknown killer the nickname The Yorkshire Ripper. Like Jack the Ripper before him, police gave Peter Sutcliffe the gruesome title as they launched the investigation into the murders.

Of course, we now know the moniker is extremely offensive. Not only is it painful for the family of the victims, it also helps the glamorous the killer.

Ahead of The Long Shadow airing on ITV, the broadcaster told reviewers: “We’d like to respectfully ask you to consider not using the term The Yorkshire Ripper in your press coverage when writing about The Long Shadow.

“Although the name is well-known shorthand for Peter Sutcliffe, the victims’ family members and survivors of his hideous crimes find the term very distressing and triggering. In respect to the many, many people affected by his awful crimes, we’d ask you to call Peter Sutcliffe by his real name.”

The police force were ‘misogynistic’

West Yorkshire Police received widespread criticism for the way it handled the Peter Sutcliffe case. The Long Shadow writer George Kay explains: “And then there are the detectives. While old-fashioned, unpalatable, misogynist attitudes were ever-present and contributed to the many missteps that drove the flawed investigation, not all were the blinkered misogynists that many might believe them to be.

“Many were stubborn, well-intended men and women who gradually became hamstrung by their own investigation. Whose failures on at least two occasions drove them to an early grave.”

As we learn from the ITV series, four very different men were in charge of the investigation. Although, two million man-hours were logged in the incident room, it took six years to catch the killer.

George Kay also explains how the fact some of the victims were known sex workers also affected the case. He says: “Our exploration and research into the stories of the women who fatally crossed Peter Sutcliffe’s path emphasised the disgraceful way sex workers are still persecuted today.”

He adds: “It’s a known fact that the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Police were a force troubled with misogyny and racism. Senior officers opted to follow seemingly tangible evidence – like the hoax letters and tape – rather than listen to the first-hand testimony of women who had survived, like Marcella Claxton.”

Police eventually arrested Peter Sutcliffe in 1981.
Police eventually arrested Peter Sutcliffe in 1981. (Credit: Shutterstock)

‘Institutional prejudices and injustices failed these women’

Director Lewis Arnold elaborates: “I felt angry at all the institutional prejudices and injustices that had failed these women between 1975 and 1981. Whilst also being aware that things hadn’t dramatically changed in the 42 years since Peter Sutcliffe’s arrest.

“Gender inequality is still so visible in 2023. And it was during the time I was reading the scripts that the shocking discovery emerged that Metropolitan Police officers were sharing vile and grossly offensive messages with each other.

“I felt that George had […] given a voice to the women and families, who were so misrepresented during the initial case in 1975.”

Mistakes made in the Peter Sutcliffe case: The police let him go

Unbelievably, the police force interviewed Peter Sutcliffe nine times during the investigation. But each time then let him go. All the police had about the case was in paper form, making it hard to cross-reference.

The Ripper incident room at Millgarth police station used a card index system which was overwhelmed with information. It was not properly cross-referenced. This led to evidence against Peter Sutcliffe getting lost in the system. Crucial similarities between him and the suspect were not picked up. Such as the gap in his teeth and his size seven feet.

At his Old Bailey trial, Peter Sutcliffe himself said: “It was just a miracle they did not apprehend me earlier – they had all the facts.”

It’s true that Peter Sutcliffe slipped through the police’s net on several occasions, despite the hunt for the so-called Yorkshire Ripper being the biggest manhunt in Britain’s history.

On one occasion, police officers interviewed Peter Sutcliffe and showed him a picture of the culprit’s bootprint near a body. In a shocking failure, they failed to notice that Peter Sutcliffe was wearing the exact same pair of boots at the time.

During the police inquiry, he was interviewed nine times. However, he was only caught when police picked him up by chance with a prostitute in his car.

Katherine Kelly stars as Emily Jackson in The Long Shadow on ITV1
Katherine Kelly stars as Peter Sutcliffe’s second murder victim Emily Jackson in The Long Shadow (Credit: ITV1)

Mistakes made in the Peter Sutcliffe case: A catalogue of stupid mistakes

In Manchester in 1977, police found a £5 note in the pocket of 28-year-old Jean Jordan. The money directly linked to Peter Sutcliffe. But police again failed to connect the two.

The note was traced to one of six companies, including Clark Transport, which employed Peter Sutcliffe as a lorry driver. He was interviewed but his alibi – from his wife and mother – was accepted.

Police also overlooked Peter Sutcliffe’s arrest in 1969 for carrying a hammer in a red light district. They also failed to respond appropriately when his friend Trevor Birdsall pointed the finger at him in an anonymous letter.

The surviving victims were not believed

There were surviving victims whose testimonies were never believed. For example, Marcella Claxton. The police had a fixed idea of who the killer was likely to be and they were convinced he was only attacking sex workers.

Many other victims who survived attacks were students, office workers, and other young women, but the police did not use the information they could offer as they did not believe they were victims of the same attacker.

As early as 1976, Marcella Claxton was hit over the head with a hammer near her home in Leeds. However, potentially vital evidence was overlooked.

She survived the attack and was able to help police produce a photofit – which later proved to be accurate – but she was discounted as a Ripper victim because she was not a prostitute.

Police appeal for murderer Peter Sutcliffe
Police appealed for The Yorkshire Ripper in 1979 (Credit: Simon Wilkinson/Shutterstock)

Police ‘hoodwinked by a hoax tape and two letters’

One of the worst mistakes in the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe came in 1979. At the time, Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield of West Yorkshire Police was hoodwinked by a hoax tape and two letters.

The letters, sent by someone claiming to be the Ripper, were sent from Sunderland. Despite warnings of a hoax from voice experts and other detectives, Oldfield pressed on. He became convinced this was his man. And, because the voice on the tape had a North East accent, Bradford-born Sutcliffe was not in the frame.

His mistake has subsequently been described as one of the biggest in British criminal history. Thirty years later, the messages were proven to be a hoax. Sunderland alcoholic John Humble admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for eight years in 2006.

Read more: The real life people behind The Long Shadow: Who plays who in chilling ITV drama based on true events?

The Long Shadow continues on Mondays at 9pm on ITV1 and ITVX.

What do you think of The Long Shadow on ITV1? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.



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Fans declare Sydnie Christmas their winner

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Britain’s Got Talent tonight (Wednesday, May 29) saw another bunch of contestants perform with the hope of booking a slot in the final.

Amongst those performing tonight was Sydnie Christmas – and her performance went down so well that some fans don’t think there’s any need for a final!

Sydnie Christmas on Britain's Got Talent
Sydnie performed tonight (Credit: ITV)

Britain’s Got Talent tonight: Sydnie Christmas performs

Tonight’s edition of BGT saw Sydnie close the show with a powerful performance of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

In her audition, Amanda Holden hit the golden buzzer, sending Sydnie straight through to the semi-finals.

Sydnie sent the crowd wild with her stunning rendition of the song – and the judges were in tears watching.

All four gushed over her performance, with Amanda confessing that more people had spoken to her about sending Sydnie through to the semi-finals with her golden buzzer than any other golden buzzer act she’d sent through before.

“You are a superstar in the making,” Alesha said. Simon was full of praise too, branding people who’d auditioned Sydnie and rejected her “idiots”.

Sydnie Christmas singing on Britain's Got Talent
Sydnie’s performance wowed fans (Credit: ITV)

Fans declare Sydnie their winner

Viewers were just as impressed with Sydnie’s performance as the judges.

Many took to Twitter to declare the 28-year-old their winner.

“No need for a final. She is a winner,” one fan tweeted. “There’s your winner right there…just love her,” another said.

“Don’t normally agree that singers should be on this, but, that’s my outright winner right there!” a third gushed.

Winner of #BGT standing there! Sydnie Christmas is in a league of her own,” another wrote. 

Sydnie Christmas on Britain's Got Talent tonight
Sydnie is through to the final! (Credit: ITV)

Britain’s Got Talent tonight: Sydnie

As the show came to an end, the contestants found out whether they were going home – or had found themselves in the final three.

Sydnie found out that she was in the final three – and then immediately learned that she had won tonight’s semi-final!

Fans were thrilled. “Head and shoulders above the rest. And a deserving winner. Well done Sydnie Christmas,” one fan tweeted.

“Sydnie Christmas will win The Final,” another predicted. “Yes Sydnie is through!” a third wrote.

She was joined in the final by Mike Woodhams.

Read more: Britain’s Got Talent tonight: Fans slam Duncan Murrays’s partially-pre recorded pogo stick act: ‘How is that fair’

Britain’s Got Talent continues tomorrow (Thursday, May 30) at 8pm on ITV1 and ITVX. 

Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and then let us know what you think of this story.



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Duncan’s pogo stick act slammed by fans

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Britain’s Got Talent tonight (Wednesday, May 29) was the third live semi-final of the series.

Duncan Murray and his pogo stick was among the acts taking part tonight – but fans weren’t overly impressed.

Duncan Murray speaking to camera on Britain's Got Talent tonight
Duncan took part in tonight’s show (Credit: ITV)

Britain’s Got Talent tonight: Duncan Murray in the semi-final

Tonight’s BGT semi final opened with a show-stopping performance from Canadian contestant Duncan Murray.

Duncan, 22, went through to the live semi-finals after impressing the judges with his pogo stick skills.

During his auditions, using his pogo stick, he jumped over both Ant and Dec – drawing rapturous applause from the audience.

For tonight’s performance, he went even bigger – if that’s even possible!

In a pre-recorded segment, Duncan was seen jumping over cars outside the arena, before heading inside.

Duncan Murray and his fellow pogo-stickers on Britain's Got Talent tonight
Duncan was joined by two other pogo stickers (Credit: ITV)

Ducan’s act divides judges

In the arena, Duncan was joined by two other people on pogo sticks.

Together, they bounced around the stage, jumping between boxes, and doing impressive flips.

At one point during the act, Duncan jumped over the judges and their table.

At the end of the act, Amanda, Alesha, and Bruno gushed over Duncan’s performance, excitedly telling him how he’d upped his performance from the audition.

However, Simon wasn’t as impressed. He also thought that being joined by two others on pogo sticks drew the attention away from Duncan.

Duncan Murray wearing a helmet after his act on Britain's Got Talent tonight
Duncan’s act didn’t go down well (Credit: ITV)

Britain’s Got Talent: Fans slam Duncan’s act

Fans of the show weren’t overly impressed with Duncan’s act – or with the fact that part of it had been pre-recorded. They took to Twitter to moan.

“Thought the whole point of the semi-finals was that the contestants have to perform LIVE! Why is he allowed to pre-record some of his act? How many attempts did he get to get it right? The other LIVE acts know get one chance!” one fan grumbled.

“There are some acts that I just don’t understand how they got through to the semis , this is one of them,” another said.

“What the hell is this nonsense?” a third then fumed. “Pre-recorded! How is that fair to the other acts?” another then asked.

“‘Some of it needed to be prerecorded’. If it can’t be done live it shouldn’t be part of the live performance. Bore off,” a fifth then fumed.

However, some fans enjoyed Duncan’s act.

Duncan!! So good to see something different on a talent show!” one fan gushed.

Read more: James Jordan sparks backlash with divisive comment about BGT’s overseas acts: ‘Why does it matter where they’re from, James?!’

Britain’s Got Talent continues tomorrow (Thursday, May 30) at 8pm on ITV1 and ITVX. 

Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and then let us know what you think of this story.



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Here’s why you recognise actress Bharti Patel

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Maya Houssain arrives in EastEnders tonight, and immediately hits it off with Harvey Monroe.

Since Mitch and Rocky left Walford, Harvey’s been a bit lonely, and partner Jean has been encouraging him to make new friends.

But we’re not sure fellow Tottenham Hotspur fan Maya is exactly who Jean meant!

Harvey bumps into Maya – a cab customer – and they chat about Spurs.

And he’s pleased the following day when she comes back to the Square and gives him a vintage football programme. The pair happily chat about their favourite sport, but Jean’s not too pleased.

Maya smiles in EastEnders
Maya hits it off with Harvey (Credit: BBC)

Who plays Maya Houssain?

Maya is played by actress Bharti Patel.

She’ll be a familiar face to soap fans as she has been a regular in BBC’s Doctors.

She plays midwife Ruhma Hanif, who was a love interest for Heston Carter. The couple eventually married and Ruhma was devastated when Heston was killed in an accident.

Bharti is still part of the cast in Doctors, which is on our screens until December. The soap has been axed – much to the disappointment of its devoted fans

Ruhma Carter (BHARTI PATEL) in Doctors
Bharti plays Ruhma Carter in Doctors (Credit: BBC)

What else has Bharti been in?

Soap fans might also recognise Bharti’s voice as she’s played several roles in the BBC Radio 4 soap, The Archers!

She also appeared in TV dramas The Undeclared War, Ten Percent and Don’t Forget the Driver.

Maya and Harvey look troubled as they talk over drinks in EastEnders
Maya opens up to Harvey next week (Credit: BBC)

Is Maya staying in EastEnders?

EastEnders has confirmed Maya is only in the soap for a guest role. However she will appear again next week.

Harvey loses her number so gets Tommy’s help to track her down online. But Maya then turns up in Walford on Tuesday June 4, fuming with Harvey.

She tells him he should not have gone through her socials. Harvey is apologetic and invites her for a drink. Maya accepts and the pair head to The Albert.

Maya then opens up to Harvey explaining her husband died last year. It’s clear the pair are bonding over more than just football.

Maya later leaves, but Harvey notices she has forgotten her hat. He once again visits her socials online to send her a message saying he has it for her. However he finds her account has been deleted.

Harvey gets really down about losing touch with her, so Jean tries to help. She takes him on a boys’ night out with a football team. But will it cheer him up?

And, just what is going on with mysterious Maya? Will Harvey ever see her again? Or has she now gone for good?

Read more: Who is leaving EastEnders this year?

EastEnders usually airs Monday to Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One.

For all the latest soap spoilers, news and chat come and join us at Soap Daily now! 

Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think.



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