ITV’s 1996 TV drama (written by Jimmy McGovern and directed by Charles McDougall) on the Hillsborough disaster, a rousing true life story about the tragedy and the controversial ruling and an alleged police coverup that exonerated many of those responsible from taking the blame.
It seems like an example of how British cinema, since the 1980s onwards, how found it much easier to produce quality Television series than it does films, possibly because it’s much harder to fund film production and then find distribution. In some ways the themes of honest, working class people trying to seek justice and equality against a corrupt bureaucracy and its ruling elite reflects the British Cinema itself.
Interestingly, the themes of corruption and bureaucracy amongst the Yorkshire police would reappear in another true life TV mini-series ‘The Red Riding Trilogy’ (1999) about the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe, aka ‘The Yorkshire Ripper’. Based on the novels by David Peace, and adapted by Tony Grisoni for Channel 4, each episode, titled 1974, 1980, 1983, was filmed by a different director (Julian Jarrold, James Marsh and Anand Tucker) and focused on a different part of the case, with new characters or reccuring characters and plotlines. Reminiscent of dark, psycholigical thrillers such as Seven and Silence of the Lambs, the level of corruption, betrayals and revelations are difficult to comprehend, especially since Peace based his novels on actual events. The series, a ‘Yorkshire Noir’, appeared to have an influence on the cerebral and gothic HBO series True Detective, written by Nic Pizzolatto and based on his novel Galveston (2010).
A real-life documentary called Paradise Lost:The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills in 1996 (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky) would cause lasting controversy following the murder investigation and trial of three teenagers wrongly of murder and witchcraft in West Memphis, Arkansas. This documentary, and three sequels, along with the intervention of celebrities such as Henry Rollins, Johnny Depp and Peter Jackson, would eventually result in the release of the prisoners twenty years later. This would also be the basis for a feature film courtroom drama The Devil’s Knot (2013) directed by Atom Egoyon starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, adapted from the Mara Leveritt’s novel.