The screenwriter of ITV's latest true crime drama, which is set to follow the crimes of notorious serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, has said that the title of the show was changed out of respect to the families of his victims.
As explained by executive producer and writer George Kay, the drama was originally announced under the same name as Sutcliffe's informal moniker, The Yorkshire Ripper.
It was renamed to The Long Shadow to prevent a "dark brand around a man who doesn't deserve that sort of attention," Kay said.
“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."
Continuing, Kay said that changing the name of the series was "one of our lessons" in making a more respectful exploration of Sutcliffe's crimes.
"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," he explained.
“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.”
Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others between 1975 and 1980.
This seven-part series is aiming to tell a new side to the horrific tale by focusing on the victims and their families; Sutcliffe reportedly only appears briefly in later episodes.
Toby Jones is starring as DCS Dennis Hoban, while David Morrissey is playing DCS George Oldfield and Lee Ingleby is DCS Jim Hobson, three of the main officers who worked to find and stop Peter Sutcliffe.
Katherine Kelly is appearing as Emily Jackson, with Daniel Mays as her husband, and Jill Halfpenny has been cast as Doreen Hill.
ITV's head of drama Polly Hill said: "George [Kay]'s scripts and Lewis [Arnold]'s direction together with this wonderful cast have produced a sensitive and brilliant drama that we are proud to have on ITV."
Sutcliffe died in prison after contracting COVID in 2020, aged 74.
The Long Shadow will air on ITV1 and stream on ITVX in September.
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