Crimewatch (formerly Crimewatch UK) is a British television programme produced by the BBC, that reconstructs major unsolved crimes in order to gain information from the public which may assist in solving the case. The programme was originally broadcast once a month on BBC One, although in the final years before axing it was usually broadcast roughly once every two months.
|Also known as||Crimewatch UK|
|Based on||Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst|
|Presented by||Nick Ross|
|Opening theme||"Rescue Helicopter" by John Cameron|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||33|
|No. of episodes||322 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Joe Mather|
|Production location||Multiple location(s)|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Original release||7 June 1984 –|
20 March 2017
|Followed by||Crimewatch Live|
|Related shows||Crime Limited|
Crimewatch was first broadcast on 7 June 1984, and is based on the German TV show Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst (which translates as File Reference XY … Unsolved). Nick Ross and Sue Cook presented the show for the first eleven years, until Cook's departure in June 1995. Cook was replaced by Jill Dando. After Dando was murdered in April 1999, Ross hosted Crimewatch alone until January 2000, when Fiona Bruce joined the show.
Kirsty Young and Matthew Amroliwala replaced Ross and Bruce following their departures in 2007. The BBC announced on 15 October 2008 that they would move production of shows such as Crimewatch to studios in Cardiff. Young and Amroliwala remained as the lead presenters until 2015. Following a brief period with guest presenter Sophie Raworth in 2016, it was announced that the show would relaunch in September 2016 with a new weekly format. The new presenters were announced as Jeremy Vine and Tina Daheley. The new series began on 5 September 2016, with the final episode broadcast on 20 March 2017.
In October 2017, the BBC announced that the main Crimewatch series had been axed, citing declining viewership. The daytime spin-off series Crimewatch Roadshow (now Crimewatch Live) would continue to air, but will also air more episodes per year. Crime NI, a similar live monthly programme in partnership with Crimestoppers UK, began airing on 13 September 2021 on BBC One Northern Ireland and is presented by Wendy Austin and Dearbhail McDonald.
The idea for the show came from the UK programme Police 5 and the German Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst (File Reference XY … Unsolved). Producers viewed the shows and rejected the overt reconstructions with music to build suspense in America's Most Wanted, and were also against the idea of filming the reconstruction from the perspective of the offender as in Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst (particularly for sexual assaults). However, they favoured the idea of audience participation in the show.
Originally, Crimewatch UK (as it was then known) was due to run for only three programmes. It was regarded as an experiment when it was first shown, partly because of doubts about whether the police would take part, witnesses and victims would welcome the idea, could it actually lead to arrests, and could it be considered in prejudicing a jury. In over 25 years, 57 murderers, 53 rapists and sex offenders, 18 paedophiles, and others were captured as a direct result of Crimewatch appeals.
Crimewatch used to be shown once a month on BBC One usually at 9pm, with a Crimewatch Update at 10.35 (following the BBC News at Ten). Since March 2011 the show aired less frequently, roughly once every two months. It featured approximately three or four cases per show, with each case featuring reconstructions of the crime. It was one of the largest live factual studio productions. The films shown often feature interviews with senior detectives and/or relatives or friends of victims. Key evidence is usually shown, such as E-FIT profiles of suspects and details of certain lines of enquiry.
Other features to the show included a "CCTV section", which showed crimes caught on CCTV with enhanced imagery of suspects. A "Wanted Faces" section was also featured: eight close-up pictures of suspects police are trying to trace are shown on screen. This section also frequently involves information about suspects, including aliases. These eight photos are shown upon the programme's closing credits, one of the few programmes in which the BBC do not 'show the credits in reduced size'.
Viewers could contact Crimewatch by phoning 0500 600 600, with the phone lines remaining open until midnight the night following the programme. Viewers could also send text messages to 63399. Due to the high demand for cases to be shown on the programme, many other cases are added to the Crimewatch website. These are joined by reconstructions, CCTV footage and wanted faces that have been shown on previous programmes. All reconstructions, CCTV footage, faces and cases remain on the Crimewatch website until the criminals are caught or suspects convicted. Crimewatch can be watched on the BBC iPlayer catch-up service for 24 hours from broadcast.
Following the main programme, there was a 10–15 minute follow-up after the BBC News at Ten, with updates on calls and results from the earlier broadcast. This was removed when the show relaunched in September 2016.
Several police officers have appeared on the programme from the studio, including David Hatcher, Helen Phelps, Jeremy Paine, Jacqui Hames, Jonathan Morrison, Jane Corrigan, and Rav Wilding. For many years the programme also included antiques experts John Bly, Eric Knowles and Paul Hayes to help with 'treasure trove' details of recovered goods believed to have been stolen.
Despite initial police concerns about involvement (only three forces out of more than 40 agreed to participate initially), Crimewatch developed a special status with police and was credited with an expertise of its own, notably through Nick Ross' long experience with public appeals. Unlike the American equivalent, America's Most Wanted, Crimewatch itself usually appeals for unsolved cases inviting viewers to be armchair detectives. According to the producers, about a third of its cases are solved, half of those as a direct result of viewers' calls. Its successes have included some of Britain's most notorious crimes, including the kidnap of Stephanie Slater and murder of Julie Dart, the M25 rapist, the road-rage killing by Kenneth Noye, and the capture of two boys for the abduction and murder of James Bulger.
Over the years, Crimewatch has featured appeals from all 43 police forces in the country. 1 in 3 appeals leads to an arrest and 1 in 5 lead to a conviction. 4 or 5 requests to air appeals are received from police forces every day.
Ratings and public responseEdit
At its peak, Crimewatch was seen by 14 million viewers per week. However, by 2017, credited to competition from other programs, it had fallen to an average of 3 million.
A study by the Broadcasting Standards Council found that Crimewatch increased the fear of crime in over half of its respondents, and a third said it made them feel "afraid". However, according to John Sears, senior English lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, it provides a beneficial role, performing "a social function by helping to solve crime, and drawing on the collective responsibilities, experiences and knowledge of the viewing audience in order to do so."
|Nick Ross||1984–2007||The main anchor and longest-serving presenter of the series since its inception. His catchphrase, "Don't have nightmares, do sleep well" (which closed out most episodes), became a household phrase and was often spoofed in numerous other TV shows. During his time on the show, he had three co-presenters: Sue Cook, Jill Dando and Fiona Bruce. From May 1999 until January 2000, Ross presented the show alone following the murder of Jill Dando. He left the programme in July 2007 to concentrate on other broadcasting projects.|
|Sue Cook||1984–1995||British broadcaster and author, and first co-presenter of the series. Unlike her successors, Cook acted more as a second main anchor, sometimes presenting a larger segment of the programme than Ross. Cook left the series in June 1995 to focus on other broadcasting projects.|
|Jill Dando||1995–1999||British broadcaster and newsreader. Second co-presenter of the series, appointed following Sue Cook's departure. The edition of Crimewatch broadcast on 20 April 1999 would be Dando's last; she was murdered six days later (26 April). Her murder was reconstructed on the May 1999 programme, where an appeal for witnesses was made. Calls made by viewers initially draw the police onto a new line of enquiry, in which they identified suspect Barry George, who was later convicted of the killing, but was acquitted in August 2008 following an appeal. No further appeals for information were ever made on the programme, and the murder remains unsolved to this day.|
|Fiona Bruce||2000–2007||British broadcaster and newsreader. Third co-presenter of the series, appointed in January 2000 following the murder of Jill Dando the previous year. Bruce co-hosted with Ross until his departure in July 2007, but left the show in December 2007 to host Antiques Roadshow.|
|Kirsty Young||2008–2015||Former newsreader for ITV and Channel Five who became the main anchor of the show in January 2008. Young departed the series in December 2015 after seven years.|
|Matthew Amroliwala||2008–2015||British newsreader who became the show's fourth co-presenter, Amroliwala hosted both the "How they were caught" and "update" segments. He left the show in March 2015 to focus on his other role of international affairs correspondent for BBC News.|
|Martin Bayfield||2012–2016||Former rugby player and policeman turned sports commentator, who took over from Rav Wilding in January 2012 as the presenter of the "Caught on Camera" segment. Bayfield was the only remaining full-time presenter on the show when the BBC chose to reboot the format, and did not return.|
|Jason Mohammad||2015–2016||British rugby commentator and journalist, who initially took over from Amroliwala for two months on a temporary basis, before returning in October 2015 as a full-time presenter. Mohammad did not return to the show when the format was rebooted in September 2016.|
|Jeremy Vine||2016–2017||British newsreader, presenter and journalist who took over as main anchor as part of a new rebooted format in September 2016, which saw the programme travel across the country and broadcast from the scene of one of the main appeals featured in the episode.|
|Tina Daheley||2016–2017||British newsreader and former BBC Radio 1 journalist who took over as co-presenter in September 2016, taking over the roles of both Mohammad and Bayfield, presenting the "Caught on Camera", "How they were caught" and "update" segments.|
|Chief Supt. David Hatcher||1984–1999||At the time of his appointment a Chief Inspector, Hatcher presented the "Photocall" section for 15 years. The first and longest-serving police officer to feature on the programme, Hatcher retired from both the force and the programme in October 1999, having reached the rank of Chief Superintendent. During his time on the show, he had two co-presenters: PC Helen Phelps and DS Jacqui Hames.|
|PC Helen Phelps||1984–1990||Co-presenter of the "Photocall" section alongside David Hatcher for six years.|
|DS Jacqui Hames||1990–2005||Succeeded Helen Phelps as co-presenter of the 'Photocall' section alongside David Hatcher. Remained with the show for 16 years, before quitting in 2005. Co-presented the Friday episode of Crimewatch Roadshow in 2013.|
|Rav Wilding||2004–2011||A Detective Constable at the time of joining the show in June 2004 on its 20th anniversary, Wilding host a segment entitled "Caught on Camera", which replaced the previously featured "Photocall" section. Wilding departed the main show in December 2011, but continues to present the Crimewatch Roadshow.|
|Pattie Coldwell||1988||Co-presented episode broadcast in April 1988 as Sue Cook was unavailable.|
|Sian Williams||2012 and 2015||Williams acted as main anchor in episodes broadcast in July 2012, May 2015 and October 2015, as Kirsty Young was unavailable.|
|Sonali Shah||2015||Presented four shows in the wake of Amroliwala's departure, before Jason Mohammad was appointed as a main presenter.|
|Sophie Raworth||2016||Took over as temporary main anchor following Kirsty Young's departure. She presented the first three shows of 2016, before the show was taken off-air and rebooted with Jeremy Vine as main anchor.|
Suspects and criminal offendersEdit
|Sidney Cooke||Suspected murderer of Mark Tildesley|
|Delroy Grant||'The night stalker', burglar and serial rapist of elderly women.|
|Antoni Imiela||The M25 rapist|
|Bible John||A serial killer who murdered three young women in Glasgow, Scotland in the late 1960s|
|Fred Lawlor||Child abuser and murderer|
|Fiona Mont||Formerly Britain's Most Wanted Woman|
|Michael Sams||Rapist, kidnapper, extortionist and murderer|
|Peter Tobin||A serial killer who murdered Vicky Hamilton, Dinah McNicol and Angelika Kluk|
|Steve Wright||A serial killer in the Ipswich serial murders|
|2011 England riots||A special edition was aimed at identifying those who committed offences during that month's riots.||18 August 2011|
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes||Main presenter(s)||Co-presenter(s)|
|1||7 June 1984||20 December 1984||6||Nick Ross||Sue Cook|
Helen Phelps (Absent for Episode 2 of Series 4)
|2||21 January 1985||12 December 1985||9|
|3||30 January 1986||18 December 1986||10|
|4||29 January 1987||8 December 1987||10|
|5||12 January 1988||8 December 1988||10|
|6||12 January 1989||7 December 1989||11|
|7||18 January 1990||6 December 1990||10||Sue Cook|
David Hatcher (Absent for Episode 4)
Helen Phelps (Episodes ?–?)
Jacqui Hames (Episodes 4–10)
Colin Fry (Episode 4)
|8||17 January 1991||5 December 1991||10||Sue Cook|
|9||23 January 1992||10 December 1992||10|
|10||21 January 1993||9 December 1993||10|
|11||20 January 1994||2 December 1994||10|
|12||19 January 1995||13 December 1995||10||Sue Cook (Episodes 1–6)|
Jill Dando (Episodes 7–10)
|13||25 January 1996||10 December 1996||10||Jill Dando|
|14||14 January 1997||16 December 1997||13|
|15||27 January 1998||15 December 1998||13|
|16||26 January 1999||14 December 1999||10||Jill Dando (Episodes 1–4) |
David Hatcher (Episodes 1–8)
|17||25 January 2000||13 December 2000||11||Fiona Bruce|
|18||24 January 2001||20 December 2001||12|
|19||13 February 2002||18 December 2002||13|
|20||5 February 2003||17 December 2003||11|
|21||27 January 2004||14 December 2004||11||Fiona Bruce|
Rav Wilding (Episodes 6–11)
|22||1 February 2005||20 December 2005||12||Fiona Bruce|
Jacqui Hames (Episodes 1–?)
|23||31 January 2006||20 December 2006||11||Fiona Bruce|
|24||8 February 2007||20 December 2007||10||Nick Ross (Episodes 1–6)
Fiona Bruce (Episodes 7–10)
|Fiona Bruce (Episodes 1–6)|
|25||23 January 2008||15 December 2008||10||Kirsty Young||Matthew Amroliwala|
Rav Wilding (Absent for Episodes 2 & 3 of Series 28)
|26||27 January 2009||21 December 2009||10|
|27||27 January 2010||14 December 2010||10|
|28||26 January 2011||15 December 2011||8|
|29||26 January 2012||21 November 2012||8||Kirsty Young
Sophie Raworth (Episode 2)
Sian Williams (Episode 5)
Martin Bayfield (Episodes 2–8)
|30||14 February 2013||28 November 2013||8||Kirsty Young||Matthew Amroliwala|
|31||22 January 2014||4 December 2014||8|
|32||21 January 2015||14 December 2015||8||Kirsty Young (Episodes 1–2, 4–5, 7–8)
Sian Williams (Episodes 3 & 6)
|Martin Bayfield (Episodes 1–5, 7–8)|
Matthew Amroliwala (Episodes 1–2)
Sonali Shah (Episodes 3–6)
Jason Mohammad (Episodes 6–8)
|33||8 February 2016||10 March 2016||2||Sophie Raworth||Martin Bayfield|
|34||5 September 2016||26 September 2016||4||Jeremy Vine||Tina Daheley|
|35||27 February 2017||20 March 2017||3|
First aired on 10 August 1988, Crimewatch File is an hour-long programme devoted to the reconstruction and investigation of a single case including cases that the programme has previously helped to solve. Presented by Nick Ross and Sue Cook concurrently (with Jill Dando taking over from Cook in 1996), more than thirty editions aired until April 2000, when the final edition, fronted by Ross, was broadcast. Following this, in latter years of the main Crimewatch programme, episodes would regularly feature segments and reports in a very similar vein to Crimewatch File.
Crime Limited was the second spin-off from Crimewatch which took cameras behind the scenes of the crimes. The first series aired on BBC One over ten episodes in 1992 and was presented by Nick Ross and Sue Cook. A second series ran in 1993 and a third series ran in 1994.
First aired in late 1998, Crimewatch Extra was a short-lived spin-off from the main programme, which would give updates and reports received on the cases featured in the previous month's programme. Broadcast on BBC Choice, the series was presented by Emma Howard. Around ten episodes were broadcast, with the final episode airing on 25 August 1999.
Crimewatch Extra transmissionsEdit
|Crimewatch Extra 1||8 February 1999||Emma Howard|
|Crimewatch Extra 2||9 March 1999|
|Crimewatch Extra 3||6 April 1999|
|Crimewatch Extra 4||6 May 1999|
|Crimewatch Extra 5||2 June 1999|
|Crimewatch Extra 6||30 June 1999|
|Crimewatch Extra 7||28 July 1999|
|Crimewatch Extra 8||25 August 1999|
Beginning on 10 August 1999, a new yearly programme entitled Crimewatch: Solved was transmitted, showing cases previously featured on the programme that resulted in convictions. Aside from 2002, a new edition was broadcast every year until 2010, when the thirteenth and final edition aired on 1 September 2010.
The BBC has aired a number of weekday Crimewatch programmes. Originally shown between 2000 and 2001, Crimewatch Daily was the first daily version of the programme, aired between 10:00 and 11:00am on weekday mornings, that appealed for help with unsolved cases not covered in the main programme. Originally shown between 2009 and 2020, Crimewatch Roadshow was the second daily version of the programme, that was broadcast on weekdays from 9:15 to 10:00am. From 8 March 2021, the show's name was changed to Crimewatch Live and is aired between 11.00 and 11:45am on weekday mornings.
Crimewatch also aired a number of one-off programmes.
First aired on 21 May 1997, Crimewatch: Hot Property was a one-off special presented by Jill Dando. The programme's aim was to help people find their stolen property that were recovered in police raids.
Crimewatch Specials transmissionsEdit
|Hot Property||21 May 1997||Jill Dando|
|Cracking Crime: Don't Have Nightmares||18 September 2002||Nick Ross |
|Killer on Camera||12 March 2008||Kirsty Young|
|On the Streets 1||17 March 2008|
|The Killing of Sally Ann Bowman||8 April 2008|
|Innocent: the Colin Stagg Story||18 December 2008||N/A|
|On the Streets 2||7 May 2009||Kirsty Young|
|On the Streets 3||11 August 2009|
|Catch Me If You Can: Murderers||17 May 2011||Philip Glenister|
|Taken: The Milly Dowler Story||30 June 2011||Kirsty Young|
|Riots Caught on Camera||18 August 2011||Rav Wilding|
|Catch Me If You Can: Armed Robbers||6 September 2011||Philip Glenister|
|Caught in the Crossfire||23 August 2012||Kirsty Young|
New Zealand versionEdit
A licensed New Zealand version of Crimewatch was broadcast on TVNZ from 1987 until 1996 and was replaced by NZI Crimescene which was aired in 1997 and 1998. Based on the original BBC format, it was shown once a month on TV One.
In its first year, Crimewatch was shown on fourth Mondays at 8pm before moving to fourth Tuesdays at 8pm in 1988 and 8.30pm from 1989 (with a Crimewatch Update aired at around 11pm) until mid-1996. The programme moved to TV2 on 1 August 1996 and aired at 8.30pm on a fourth Thursday until it ended later that year.
Ian Johnstone presented the New Zealand version throughout its entire run, and was joined by Natalie Brunt (1987–88), Carol Hirschfeld (1989–93), Tiana Tofilau (1994) and Mairanga White (1995–96) as successive co-presenters. Calls to the show's special phoneline helped police solve approximately 1,400 cases.
- Police 5, similar programme on ITV for the United Kingdom
- America's Most Wanted, similar programme for the United States
- Fugitive Watch, similar programme for the United States
- Unsolved Mysteries, similar programme for the United States
- Crime Watch Daily, similar syndicated programme for the United States
- The Hunt with John Walsh, similar programme for the United States
- Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst, similar programme for Germany
- Efterlyst, similar programme for Sweden
- Crimecall, similar programme for Ireland
- Crimewatch (New Zealand), similar programme for New Zealand
- Police Ten 7, similar programme for New Zealand
- India's Most Wanted inspired programme for India
- Police Report, similar programme for Hong Kong
- Linha Direta, similar programme for Brazil
- Crime Watch, similar programme for Trinidad and Tobago
- Crimewatch Singapore, similar programme for Singapore
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