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Is The Pembrokeshire Murders based on a true story? Real events that inspired ITV drama - and when is it on TV

The ITV drama was a hit with viewers and broke viewing records on the channel - but what is the real life story behind the show?

The Pembrokeshire Murders has been a hit for ITV so far, even though only one episode has aired so far.

The true crime-inspired series marked the highest new drama first night audience for ITV since The Durrells premiered in 2016, with audiences and critics praising the show.

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The drama takes inspiration from real life in its depiction of the brutal killings with everything from a reopened cold case to even darts game show Bullseye being a key part of the investigation.

Alongside the drama, a documentary titled ‘The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching The Game Show Killer’ was released by ITV detailed the real-life story.

Here’s everything you need to know about the real Pembrokeshire Murders.

What is The Pembrokeshire Murders about?

The show takes place in the Pembrokeshire, Wales in 2006 and follows Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins as he begins to reopen unsolved cold murder cases from the 1980s.

Wilkins works with journalist Jonathan Hill to bring the guilty party to justice, with the detective examining through a new lens thanks to advancements to DNA sampling, witness testimonies and artists impressions.

The show is in fact based upon a true story and take many cues from the true-crime book written by Wilkins and Jonathan Hill titled ‘The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching the Bullseye Killer’.

The show itself states at the top of the programme: “This drama is based on the true story of a police investigation that took place in Pembrokeshire, Wales between 2006 and 2011. Some of the characters and events portrayed have been altered for the purpose of dramatization and to protect anonymity where appropriate”

What is the real life story of The Pembrokeshire Murders?

The show is more-or-less a faithful retelling of the story.

In 1985, siblings Richard and Helen Thomas were killed in Scovestone Park, Pembrokeshire after being shot and their home was burned to the ground.

Husband and wife Peter and Gwenda Dixon were also killed in 1989, with the killer shooting the couple at close range while they were on a camping trip.

The killings were dubbed ‘the Pembrokeshire Murders’ or ‘Coastal Path murders’ by the UK media.

As in the show, DS Wilkins reopened the case in 2006 to examine the details, with DNS samples and sketch images of Cooper leading police to look at a 1989 episode of popular darts game show Bullseye.

Cooper, who is dubbed ‘the Bullseye Killer’, had in fact starred on this episode as a contestant - just a few weeks before Peter and Gwenda were killed.

Detectives used his appearance to cross reference sketches before noticing an uncanny resemblance between the suspect and Cooper.

One of the major clues from the gameshow episode was the fact that Cooper had mentioned his hobby for scuba diving in the Pembrokeshire area, demonstrating his knowledge of the coastal area.

This led to Cooper’s arrest and subsequent conviction for the two double murders, as well as being found guilty of threatening a group of teenagers, sexually assaulting one girl and raping another.

Who is in The Pembrokeshire Murders?

The show is stacked with talent with Luke Evans, known to audiences for his roles in The Hobbit and Beauty and The Beast, taking the title role of DS Wilkins.

Serial killer Cooper is played by Keith Allen, with journalist Jonathan Hill played by David Flynn.

When is The Pembrokeshire Murders on TV?

The show premiered on 11 January 2021.

It is now available to watch on demand on ITVHub and STV Player.

The documentary ‘The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching The Game Show Killer’ will air on ITV at 10.45pm on 14 January 2021.

This will also be available on demand.

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