The ITV have recently released their adaptation of the notorious Pembrokeshire murders, staring Luke Evans and Keith Allen. Evans plays Steve Wilkins, the detective, whose unfaltering determination finally led to the conviction of John Cooper (Keith Allen). The story is adapted from the book Wilkins wrote ‘The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching the Bullseye Killer’ and told from his point of view.
Detective superintendent reopens two unsolved murder cases from the 1980s. Forensic methods link the crimes to a string of burglaries. Steve’s team has to find more evidence before the perpetrator is released from prison.
Introducing John Cooper
John, also known as The Bullseye Killer, was born in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire. He committed his crimes, including murder, sexual assault, and attempted robbery in the 1980s and 1990s. He wasn’t connected to or convicted of these crimes due to a lack of evidence, that is until 2011. In 1998 he was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison for robbery and burglary (separate to the ones in his 2011 conviction) and released in 2009. It was DNA from these other crimes that eventually led to his connection and conviction to 11 other offences. John was very private and careful. He didn’t have any photos of himself from that time period, meaning later investigations could clarify his appearance to link him to the witness testimonies.
The final piece of evidence was a chance conversation leading to his appearance on the hit gameshow Bullseye to be able to convict him. The police finally had concrete proof of what he looked like in the 80s and was able to compare this to the witness sketch. He will spend the rest of his life in prison without the opportunity for release.
Is it worth the cop?
This series is in 3 parts and has used some artistic license to dramatise the real-life events. Even though we know the outcome, the series draws you in and makes you wonder if he will be caught or not! The story feels real (thankfully, as it is real!) and hasn’t been embellished to the point it feels fictional.
I must admit that I am not a big fan of Evans as an actor. I find him emotionless and detached from his characters (Gaston a prime example). He was ok in this series, and it was good to see a Welsh actor play a Welsh part. Allen plays the evil John Cooper very well and brings a very sinister feel to the character. I doubt Evans will win awards for the acting but I’m sure this series will be nominated for some TV awards later this year.
I recommend watching this for anyone who enjoys crime dramas. There could have been a greater portrayal of who Cooper was, and what led him to the life he lived. It would have been good to find out more about his son and wife. The parts which centred around Wilkins’ relationship with his son didn’t add much to the story. Overall, it is ok but not mind-blowing.