ITV has decided to rename a series about serial killer Peter Sutcliffe after the victims’ families complained about the original title, Yorkshire Ripper.
The seven-part true crime series about Sutcliffe’s reign of terror is written by George Kay, whose credits include Litvinenko starring David Tennant.
BAFTA-winner Lewis Arnold directed the show, which premieres later this month.
Kay said that drama will now be called The Long Shadow after the victims’ families said that referring to Sutcliffe using the moniker “Yorkshire Ripper” created a “dark brand around” him, in a statement to The Telegraph.
“We started by calling it The Yorkshire Ripper but in the beginning we hadn’t learnt, as we did when making the show, that the moniker used to describe Peter Sutcliffe – which obviously began before anyone knew his real name, but continued after – was disrespectful in many ways,” Kay explained.
“The victims’ families certainly don’t want that name being applied to Peter Sutcliffe because it creates a dark brand around a man who doesn’t deserve that sort of attention, and especially not that verb,” he added.
In 2020, the women’s families similarly urged Netflix to change the title of its four-part series about Sutcliffe in an open letter to the streaming giant.
Members of the families, who agreed to be interviewed for the series, were originally told the show was going to be called Once Upon a Time in Yorkshire.
They were devastated to learn that Netflix had decided on using the title The Ripper instead, accusing the streaming giant of “glorifying” Sutcliffe’s crimes.
The relatives of seven of Sutcliffe’s victims and survivors signed the letter, shared with The Sunday Times.
They wrote: “The moniker ‘the Yorkshire Ripper’ has traumatised us and our families for the past four decades.
“It glorifies the brutal violence of Peter Sutcliffe, and grants him a celebrity status that he does not deserve.
“Please remember that the word ‘ripper’ relates to ripping flesh and the repeated use of this phrase is irresponsible, insensitive and insulting to our families and our mothers’ and grandmothers’ legacies.”
Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven more across Yorkshire and northwest England between 1975 and 1980.
He was arrested in 1981 and sentenced to 20 concurrent sentences of life imprisonment. This was changed to a whole life order in 2010.
Sutcliffe died in prison after contracting covid in 2020, aged 74.
ITV’s forthcoming drama focuses more heavily on the victims’ families and “the desperate five-year hunt” for Sutcliffe, according to the channel.
Award-winning actor Toby Jones plays the role of DCS Dennis Hoban, the Leeds detective who initially led the investigation before it was famously taken over by DCS George Oldfield (played by David Morrissey).
Jill Halfpenny plays the role of Doreen Hill, a mother who moved her daughter Jacqueline Hill into residence halls at Leeds University after becoming fearful for her safety due to the killings.
However, Sutcliffe murdered Jacqueline while she was returning to the halls on 17 November 1980.
The Long Shadow will air on ITV1 and ITVX later this month.