Chalkboard TV has been commissioned by the BBC to make historical-crime series My Grandad Was Innocent, which will broadcast on BBC One in early 2018.
The innovative 10 x 60’ format sees 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.
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 of My Grandad Was Innocent 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.
Dan McGolpin, Controller BBC Programming and Daytime, says: “This series is based on an ambitious and powerful idea. Ten families who believe that their relative may have been falsely convicted of murder and hanged will get the opportunity to clear their name."
Lindsay Bradbury, BBC Commissioning Editor Daytime and Early Peak, says: “It’s not often that an idea like this one comes along. It’s got a real sense of public service, stacks of emotion and a huge pull through to the end.”
Mike Benson, director of Chalkboard, and executive producer of My Grandad Was Innocent, says: “We’re hugely proud of this show. 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.”
The series was commissioned by Dan McGolpin, Controller BBC Programming and Daytime and Lindsay Bradbury, BBC Daytime & Early Peak Commissioning Editor. It will be executive produced by Mike Benson and Warwick Banks for Chalkboard.