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Title: Crimewatch  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: John Cannan, Murder of Colette Aram, Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst, America's Most Wanted, Disappearance of Madeleine McCann
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Also known as Crimewatch UK
Genre Factual
Presented by Kirsty Young
Matthew Amroliwala
Martin Bayfield
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Location(s) Cardiff
Running time 60 minutes
Original channel BBC One
Picture format 576i (16:9 SDTV)
Original run 7 June 1984 (1984-06-07) – present
Followed by Crimewatch Update
Related shows Crimewatch Roadshow
External links

Crimewatch (formerly Crimewatch UK) is a long-running and high-profile 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 more recent years the programme has more usually been broadcast roughly once every two months. It was announced on 15 October 2008 that the BBC would move the filming of shows such as Crimewatch to studios in Cardiff.[1]

The show 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). It was first presented by Nick Ross and Sue Cook. When Cook left in 1995, she was replaced by Jill Dando. After Dando's murder in April 1999, Fiona Bruce took over.

Kirsty Young, Matthew Amroliwala and Martin Bayfield currently front the show; following the departures of Ross and Bruce in 2007 and Rav Wilding on 15 December 2011.


The idea for the show came from the UK programme Police Five and the German Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst (File Reference XY … Unsolved).[2] 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).[3] However, they favoured the idea of audience participation in the show.[3] It started as Crimewatch UK and was due to run for three programmes only.[4] It was regarded as an experiment when it was first shown, partly because of doubts about whether police would take part,[4] whether witnesses and victims would welcome the idea, whether it would actually lead to arrests, and whether it could be considered to prejudice 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.

Show format

The programme used to be shown every 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 has aired less frequently, roughly once every two months.[5] The show features approximately three or four cases per show, with each case featuring reconstructions of the crime. It is one of the largest live factual studio productions. The films shown often feature interviews with senior detectives and/or relatives or friends.[6] Key evidence is usually shown, such as E-FIT profiles of suspects and details of certain lines of enquiry.

The show has other features, such as the CCTV section, presented approximately 15 minutes from the start and end of the programme by Martin Bayfield. This shows CCTV reports of many different crimes, with enhanced imagery of suspects police are trying to contact. Also presented by Martin Bayfield is the Wanted Faces, eight close-up pictures of suspects police need to talk to. This section also frequently involves information about suspects, including aliases. These eight photos are shown upon the programme's closing titles, one of the few programmes in which the BBC do not 'show the credits in reduced size'.

Viewers can contact Crimewatch by phoning 0500 600 600, with phonelines remaining open until midnight the night following the programme. Viewers can also send text messages. 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—longer availability could potentially prejudice forthcoming legal proceedings.

Crimewatch Update

Following the main programme, there is a 10–15 minute follow-up after the BBC News at Ten, with updates on calls and results from the earlier broadcast.

Crimewatch Solved

From time to time an extra programme Crimewatch: Solved is transmitted, showing cases that resulted in convictions; sometimes a Crimewatch special is produced which reviews an entire high-profile case, such as the murder of Sarah Payne, from beginning to end.

Crimewatch Hot Property

In 1997, Crimewatch did a special programme called Crimewatch Hot Property presented by Jill Dando and broadcast on BBC 1. The aim was to help people find their stolen properties that were recovered by police raids.

Crimewatch Roadshow

This accompanying series is shown on weekday mornings from 9.15am -10am for four weeks in the summer. It is now in its sixth series. Presented by Rav Wilding in the studio and BBC news presenter Sian Lloyd on location. The programme travels to different police forces across the country to help solve everyday crime.


Several police officers have appeared on the programme from the studio, including David Hatcher, Helen Phelps, Jeremy Payne, 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, to trace owners.[6]

Despite initial police concerns about involvement[4] (only three forces out of more than 40 agreed to participate at first) 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 based on Crimewatch, 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 response

Crimewatch is watched by between four and five million every month.

A study by the Broadcasting Standards Council found that Crimewatch UK increased the fear of crime in over half of its respondents, and a third said it made them feel "afraid".[7] However, according to John Sears, senior English lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University,[8][9] 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."[10]


Presenter Year Additional information
Nick Ross 1984–2007 Known for ending each episode by reminding viewers that violent crime is actually very rare and encouraging them not to have nightmares (due to the show's late air time). His phrase, "Don't have nightmares, do sleep well" has been referenced and spoofed in numerous TV shows and stand-up comedy routines. Left the show after 23 years
Sue Cook 1984–1995 British broadcaster and author, left the show to focus on other work
David Hatcher 1984–1999 David was the first policeman and longest serving police presenter on the programme. He was selected after being invited for audition for the first programme and was joined for several years by a fellow Kent officer Police Constable Helen Phelps. Joining the programme as a Chief Inspector from Kent Police he retired from that force and the programme in October 1999 having reached the rank of Chief Superintendent.
Jill Dando 1995–1999 Her murder was reconstructed and shown on Crimewatch, though the appeal did not result in the arrest of Barry George, who was later convicted of the killing but was acquitted on 1 August 2008
Fiona Bruce 1999–2007 Left the show to host Antiques Roadshow after eight years
Rav Wilding 2004–2011 A former policeman, who specializes on the criminals Caught on Camera section. His departure was announced by Kirsty Young in the Crimewatch Update in December 2011. Left the show after seven years
Kirsty Young 2008–present Former newsreader for Channel Five and ITV now main anchor of Crimewatch and presenter of Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4
Matthew Amroliwala 2008–present Newsreader who presents the "How they were caught" section and presents updates on previous cases covered by Crimewatch
Martin Bayfield 2012–present Former rugby player and now sports commentator, he succeeded Rav Wilding as presenter on the criminals Caught on Camera section.
Sophie Raworth 2012 Stood in for Kirsty Young in March 2012.
Sian Williams 2012 Stood in for Kirsty Young in July 2012.

Featured cases


Suspects and criminal offenders

See also


  1. ^ BBC evicts top shows from London BBC News, 15 October 2008
  2. ^ Jewkes, Yvonne (2004) Media and crime, SAGE, p. 153
  3. ^ a b Schlesinger, Philip; Tumber, Howard (1994) "Fighting the war against crime: Television, police and audience." The British Journal of Criminology. 33:19-32
  4. ^ a b c Newburn, Tim (2007) Criminology, Willan Publishing, p. 105
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Leishman, Frank; Mason, Paul (2003) Policing and the media: facts, fictions and factions, Willan Publishing, p. 114
  7. ^ Palmer, Gareth (2003) Discipline and liberty: television and governance, Manchester University Press ND, p. 80–81
  8. ^ "John Sears". Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Academic Staff". Faculty of Humanities, Law and Social Sciences - English and Creative Writing Department. Manchester Metropolitan University. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  10. ^ Bignell, Jonathan (2004) An introduction to television studies, Routledge, p. 197
  11. ^ "Man remanded in 1983 death case". BBC News. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  12. ^ Hough, Andrew (18 August 2011). "London riots: CCTV shows thugs blasting man defending shop with fire extinguisher". The Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  13. ^ "Police release shocking fire extinguisher attack footage from Battersea riots". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). 19 August 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  14. ^ "TnT Crime Watch". Retrieved 4 June 2011. 

External links

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