What is The Pembrokeshire Murders based on?

As the new ITV show becomes an instant hit, fans are horrified to learn the truth behind the series

The Pembrokeshire Murders
(Image credit: ITV)

Time to wrap up in a blanket and get comfy on your sofa, ITV just began airing their new drama miniseries and the second episode is on Tonight!

Last night the start of the three-part mini-series, The Pembrokeshire Murders, aired on ITV. 

Starring Luke Evans as Senior Investigating Officer Steve Wilkins and Keith Allen as serial killer John Cooper, this series focuses on the string of murders that took place in Wales in the late 1980s. 

The series started off with a bang on Monday night with over 6.3 million viewers tuning in to watch the new miniseries. This is ITV’s largest audience for a new drama series since 2016 when The Durrels aired 5 years ago. 

The new ITV drama is horrifyingly based on a true story. The show states at the beginning of the series:

“This drama is based on the true story of a police investigation that took place in Pembrokeshire, Wales between 2006 and 2011. Some of the characters and events portrayed have been altered for the purpose of dramatization and to protect anonymity where appropriate.”

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What happened in real life?

The series is based on real-life events that took place a decade ago. The series also used the true-crime book released by those investigating the crimes to inform the narrative.

Officer Steve Wilkins (Luke Evan’s character’s real-life counterpart) and Jonathan Hill released a book in 2013 titled: The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching the Bullseye Killer

The authors of this book played pivotal roles in the real-life identification of the serial killer. Jonathan Hill, a Welsh journalist, and Steve Wilkins coordinated their efforts in order to lead the murderer to justice - as shown in the ITV miniseries. 

This true-crime book discusses how modern forensic testing and bizarrely the television show Bullseye assisted in the crucial identification of the murderer. 

The killer, John Cooper, starred in an episode of Bullseye, a popular darts show in the 1980s. This episode allowed the police to identify Cooper as the serial killer they were looking for. 

By sheer luck, Cooper discussed his hobby of scuba diving and unwittingly admitted to knowing the coastal area where he would later murder two of his victims. He also sported a classic 80’s hairstyle that was mentioned by an eye-witness to one of his crimes that took place shortly after the TV appearance. 

Many fans of the show are also questioning, Is John Cooper, the serial killer, still alive? The answer is yes, he is currently serving a life sentence in prison. 

Fans are also wondering, What happened to John Cooper's wife? The truth is that she died from natural causes after her husband returned home from his first prison stint

The Pembrokeshire Murders

(Image credit: ITV)

Where was The Pembrokeshire Murders filmed?

Most of the filming for the series took place in Wales, with exceptions to John Cooper’s prison scenes which took place in Gloucester prison which closed in 2013 and has since been used as a filming location for various television shows. 

Other filming locations include; Port Talbot, Trefin, Cardiff Crown Court, Rhondda, Little Haven, Pembroke Dock, and Hakin Point. 

The series wrapped filming just two days before the COVID-19 Welsh lockdown. 

The series will continue tonight at 9 pm and conclude tomorrow on Wednesday 13th January 2021.