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Netflix Criticized For ‘Glorifying’ Serial Killer Peter Sutcliffe

Relatives of the serial killer’s victims feel betrayed by Netflix’s new show.

Featured image via Netflix/Youtube

Family members of the UK serial killer spoke out against Netflix’s new docu-series on Peter Sutcliffe, claiming the show title’s name change to “The Ripper” glorifies his crimes. 

Peter Sutcliffe was responsible for leading a 5-year killing spree, with 13 female victims and 7 more attempts during the years 1975-1980, landing him in prison at Bradmoore Hospital for four decades.

After being the cause of one of the UK’s greatest police man-hunts in history, he recently passed away at age 74 in hospital due to coronavirus complications. Netflix’s new four-part docu-series on him is set to premier on the 16th of December, 2020. 

The documentary was originally set to be called Once Upon a Time in Yorkshire, and intended to be a “sensitive re-examination of the crimes within the context of England in the late 1970s”, the Netflix creators told The Sunday Times. They are the same creators who brought about the hit docu-series Don’t Fu** With Cats earlier this year. 

They added, “This was a time of radical change: a time of poverty and misogyny in which Sutcliffe’s victims were dehumanised by the media and the police, and that resulted in the perpetrator evading capture for five years.”

This series has at its heart the stories of the women who died.

Netflix, The Sunday Times

However, with the recent name change turning to be The Ripper, many family members of Sutcliffe’s victims felt betrayed by the creators, saying the name was insensitive to use and against their agreements. 

They composed an open letter to the creative outlet outlining their issue with the poignant name change: 


“The moniker ‘the Yorkshire Ripper’ has traumatized 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.”

They felt it did not render their relatives justice, and instead treated Sutcliffe “like a celebrity”, adding that many of them regret taking part in the confessional interviews of the docuseries and would not have done so if they had known of the upcoming name change. 

The letter was signed by relatives of seven of Sutcliffe’s 13 victims – Emily Jackson, Patricia Atkinson, Jayne MacDonald, Vera Millward, Olive Smelt, Wilma McCann and Irene Richardson – along with survivors Marcella Claxton and Mo Lea.

Netflix has not directly responded to the open letter so far, but has released press on what to expect from the show: “We hear from investigators, journalists, survivors and the victims’ families on their stories, and how the prejudices and misogyny of the time played a part in these women being so tragically let down.”

Time to wait for its premiere and see if it really does show through a proper understanding and sensible take on some of the UK history’s most heinous serial killer… 

In the meantime, if you are a fan of serial-killer docuseries, why not check out this New Thrilling True Crime: The Three Deaths of Maria Escobedo. 

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