The 'Steeltown Murders' Trailer Raises Old Ghosts

Siôn Alun Davies as Phil Bach, Rees Scott Arthur as DCI Paul Bethell and Dyfan Dwyfor as DS Vic Jenkins

(Photo: BBC)

In the 21st century, most of us take DNA testing to solve crimes for granted, but it was not that long ago that such evidence was not even possible, let alone routinely used. Moreover, it certainly wasn't possible for anyone to trace the DNA of someone after they died to prove that they committed murders. The case that changed that was that of the "Saturday Night Strangler," Joseph Kappen, a Welsh serial killer now known to have committed the rape and murder of three teenage girls in 1973. (He's also suspected of a fourth one, but that was never proven.)

Kappen's conviction came nearly 30 years after his crimes in 2002. However, they were unique and groundbreaking because Kappen was no longer alive then. He'd passed away 12 years previously, dying of lung cancer in 1990. He is the first person ever to be posthumously identified as a serial killer and the first Welsh serial killer in U.K. history. In May 2023, the BBC released a true crime drama, Steeltown Murders, which takes its name from the fact that Port Talbot is a heavily industrial town dominated by a giant steelworks that still produces over 5 million tons of steel slab a year. 

The series now comes to this side of the pond, arriving on Acorn TV at the end of November. Told over two timelines, one in 1973 and one in 2022, it traces how the cases first went unsolved and then how the evidence collected in the past was used in the present once technology caught up with it. Check out the trailer.

Here's the series synopsis:

It’s 2002 in Port Talbot, Wales, and on hearing that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) are looking to reopen two sexually motivated murder cases from 1973, DCI Paul Bethell jumps at the opportunity to lead the investigation. Following two vividly different timelines, we also revisit the tragic events of ’73 to see both a small Welsh community devastated by grief, and Paul as a junior officer who is adamant not to make the same mistakes that he and the force had made once before.

Scott Arthur as young DC Paul Bethell and Steve Nicolson as DI Tony Warren in 'Steeltown Murders' 1973 storyline

Scott Arthur as young DC Paul Bethell and Steve Nicolson as DI Tony Warren in 'Steeltown Murders'

Henrik Petit/AcornTV

Steeltown Murders stars Philip Glenister (Life On Mars) and Scott Arthur (Good Omens) as the older and younger versions of the real-life DCI Paul Bethell. Steffan Rhodri (In My Skin) and Siôn Alun Davies (The Sandman) co-star as the older and younger versions of his real-life partner in the manhunt, DC Phil ‘Bach’ Rees. They are joined by Keith Allen (The Pembrokeshire Murders), Priyanga Burford (Industry), Sharon Morgan (Gangs Of London), Nia Roberts (Red Rose), Elinor Crawley (Vikings), Gareth John Bale (35 Awr), Kriss Dosanjh (The Larkins), Matthew Gravelle (Broadchurch), Amy Morgan (Showtrial), and Dyfan Dwyfor (A Very English Scandal).

The four-part drama is written by Ed Whitmore (Manhunt) and directed by Marc Evans (Hinterland), with Hannah Thomas (Hidden) serving as producer in association with All3Media International. Executive producers are Ed TalfanJon Hill, Whitmore for Severn Screen and Helen Perry and Rebecca Ferguson for the BBC. 

All four episodes of Steeltown Murders will premiere on Acorn TV on Monday, November 27, 2023.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

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