ITV changed the title of their upcoming show The Yorkshire Ripper to The Long Shadow after criticism from victims’ families.
The new drama series will focus on the five-year manhunt for serial killer Peter Sutcliffe – known as the Yorkshire Ripper – who killed 13 women and attempted to kill seven more between 1975-1980.
In a new interview with The Daily Telegraph, screenwriter George Kay said that the name change came after criticism from families, and problems surrounding the use of the popular nickname.
“We started by calling it The Yorkshire Ripper but in the beginning we hadn’t learnt, as we did when making the show, that the moniker used to describe Peter Sutcliffe – which obviously began before anyone knew his real name, but continued after – was disrespectful in many ways,” he said.
“The victims’ families certainly don’t want that name being applied to Peter Sutcliffe because it creates a dark brand around a man who doesn’t deserve that sort of attention, and especially not that verb.
“That was one of our lessons. We’ve been working on this for four years and in that time we’ve met lots of people in all parts of this story.”
Kay added: “We’ve tried to learn and change and understand their stories and their opinions, and so because of that the title changed from The Yorkshire Ripper.”
The Long Shadow will come to ITV1 and ITVx later this month, and stars Toby Jones as detective Dennis Hoban, and David Morrissey as his successor George Oldfield.
Elsewhere, Katherine Kelly plays Sutcliffe’s second victim Emily Jackson, with Daniel Mays playing her husband Sydney.
A synopsis of the show reads: “One murder has the power to cast a long shadow and this case plunged a whole society into darkness. For every victim, there were friends and loved ones. For every police officer, there was the burden of failure — of near misses and guilt — and the knowledge that as they failed to find their man, more women continued to suffer.
“The impact on the lives of those who live on after the death of their loved one remains to this day. Those who cannot escape what happened, who must sit with their incomprehensible trauma for decades after, enduring their own life sentences.”