The definitive telling of one of the most tragic kidnappings - and murders - of the past 50 years.
Lesley Whittle was just 17 when she was snatched by Donald Neilson - the man known as the Black Panther.
He was a builder turned career criminal, responsible for four murders and more than 400 burglaries. Three victims were sub-postmasters, killed in armed raids in Yorkshire and the West Midlands.
The fourth was teenager Lesley, the heir to one of the country's biggest private coach companies.
Her kidnapping triggered one of the biggest manhunts ever - with more than 400 officers involved in the investigation - and made him Britain’s most wanted man.
Using archive footage, new and exclusive interviews and dramatic reconstruction, we will tell the story of the heiress, the robber and the crime that gripped the country for two months in the mid-1970s.
Neilson had become known as the "Black Panther" after wearing a balaclava to commit his robberies - though he was known by other nicknames such as "The Phantom" and "Handy Andy" in a bid to confuse the police. His motive was always money, but his methods became increasingly violent.
Lesley Whittle was the daughter of the owner of a successful coach company. Her father George left his entire fortune to his partner and their children, Ronald and Lesley.
Lesley and Neilson's fates would collide when he read about a dispute over the Whittle fortune - and plotted to kidnap a member of the family for what he considered was an amount they wouldn't miss.
Lesley's ordeal began at her home in Shropshire, on 14 January 1975 when her mother Dorothy went to wake her daughter and found an empty bed. In the lounge there were three ransom notes demanding £50,000 and a warning not to involve the police.
We will never know for sure whether he intended to kidnap Lesley - she just happened to be at home that night in 1975. If it wasn’t for a mix up in communications between Neilson and the authorities, Lesley may well have survived.
Instead - seven weeks later - she was found hanging from a wire at the bottom of the drainage shaft where he had tethered her in Staffordshire.
It was unclear if Neilsen ever really intended to kill Lesley. Her bindings had been padded to avoid chafing, she had been given food and mattresses to sleep on. Her death probably happened only because she fell down the shaft by accident.
Neilson was eventually caught after he was seen acting suspiciously outside a post office near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in December 1975.
He hijacked a police car, and after a shootout, two members of the public helped to overpower him. He was given four life sentences in July 1976 and told in 2008 he would spend the rest of his life in jail after a failed appeal. He died in 2011.
It started with a 999 call from a lorry driver in an industrial estate in Essex and ended in one of the UK’s biggest ever police investigations, into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants.
Spanning Britain, Europe and Vietnam, the film shows how detectives cracked open a multimillion-pound international smuggling ring with its roots in a seemingly innocuous haulage business in the heart of Northern Ireland.
With exclusive access to Essex Police, their officers and the evidence, this film reveals how detectives painstakingly pieced together a complex web of evidence, including the extraordinary role of a witness known only as “Witness X”, whose evidence helped bring down the gang.
The film will also feature interviews with the families in Vietnam of some of those who lost their lives in the back of the lorry, who tell their heart-breaking stories of losing loved ones on the false promise of a new life in the UK.
This is a gripping and humane account of one of the UK’s most shocking crimes and a story that lifts the lid on the hidden world of organised crime's trade in people smuggling.
Award-winning drama Guilt returns for a new four-part series full of twists, turns and deception. In an Edinburgh cellar, two gunshots ring out. Across town, Max McCall is released from prison. These two events gradually come together as Max tries to rebuild his life, and new arrival Erin tries to save hers. When Roy Lynch rebuffs Max’s efforts at a reconciliation, Max turns to Kenny for help - despite their troubled history. However, this is a newly confident Kenny, with a budding new relationship, and he provides Max with a tougher challenge than expected.
To help his daughter, Roy finally turns to Max and Kenny and forces them to help him. It appears that Max’s fall from grace is complete…but he has a secret motivation to reveal.
Written by Neil Forsyth, Guilt stars Mark Bonnar as Max McCall, Sara Vickers as Erin, Stuart Bowman as Roy Lynch and Emun Elliot as Kenny. Also starring Phyllis Logan, Greg McHugh, Sandy McDade, Henry Pettigrew, Rochelle Neil and Robin Laing.
Guilt is an Expectation and Happy Tramp North co-production for BBC Scotland and BBC Two.
All four episodes of Guilt are available to view on BBC iPlayer from Tuesday 12thOctober at 10.00pm
Princess Michael of Kent is sometimes referred to as "Princess Pushy", a nickname allegedly first coined by Princess Anne. Now 76, she married into the Royal Family in 1978 following a five-year courtship with The Queen's first cousin Prince Michael of Kent.
Mountbatten persuaded the Pope to annul Marie's first marriage, before persuading The Queen of her merits. When she heard that Marie is descended from European royalty, The Queen apparently remarked that Marie sounded too grand for the Windsors. She consented to the wedding but the Pope forbade a church service, so Baroness Marie and Prince Michael had to settle for the grandest of registry office ceremonies in Vienna Town Hall.
In the four decades since, Princess Michael has become one of the Royal Family's most colourful members. In 1985 her father was revealed to have served in the SS for eleven years, which embroiled the Windsors in lurid tabloid stories. Yet The Queen is said to be fond of the Kent’s and paid their annual rent at Kensington Palace for six years, until government pressure ended the arrangement in 2008.
The Kent’s are not on the Civil List so the Princess has earned money as an author and by charging for personal appearances. This lead to another unflattering nickname, "Rent-A-Kent", apparently coined by Prince Charles. It resurfaced in May 2021 when Prince Michael was reported to be selling access to President Putin, claims his staff have since denied. In this film, Royal biographers and journalists consider the many dramas in Princess Michael's Royal life and ponder when she will hit the headlines again.
Comedians Tom Allen, Jessica Knappett and Munya Chawawa join forces to assemble a 'Complaints Committee' of viewers who have plenty to say about the television shows that are getting the nation talking. From daytime to documentaries, pre-school to politics, no genre is off limits. Tom, Jessica and Munya are joined in the studio by guests from the world of telly as they playfully dissect the week's televisual complaints, looking for resolutions and ultimately deciding whether the viewers' feedback will be upheld or rejected.
When Alma discovers that her care leaving background can help secure her an audition to join a theatre company for a national tour, she jumps at the chance. However, when social services sends through her records, Alma comes face to face with the stark reality of her childhood growing up in and out of the care system. Could this bombshell lead to Alma missing out on an opportunity she’s been waiting her whole life for?
Today in the Repair Shop, Jay Blades and the team bring four treasured family heirlooms, and the memories they hold, back to life.
Painting conservator Lucia Scalisi welcomes a symbolic seascape painting into the barn. Owners Jenny and James sought solace on the Pembrokeshire seashore when they lost their baby son Elijah after only 37 days. For them, this painting of a rocky harbour and rowing boat has come to symbolise the turbulent emotions they’ve encountered. Working on such a poignant painting is a huge responsibility for Lucia but when the couple returns to see her restoration they are utterly blown away.
Bear ladies Amanda Middleditch and Julie Tatchell are tasked with reviving a dislocated doll belonging to Ana who fled to the UK from Bosnia with her parents when she was a child. With mechanical maestro Steve Fletcher getting a head start on the doll’s squiffy eye, the ladies turn their attention to making the baby doll more robust and a little less scary.
Farmer Simon is hoping to see his grandfather’s fiddle drill back in action once again. The vintage seed-sower has seen better days but with the joint craftsmanship of metal and leather experts Dominic Chinea and Suzie Fletcher the unusual drill is finally in fine fettle once more.
And ceramics expert Kirsten Ramsey revives an earthenware Parisian plate belonging to a family that fled the Nazi invasion of France and subsequently travelled around the globe, always with their precious plate in tow.
On this Walk Arthur is in East Anglia, a region famed for its flat landscape and scenic waterways, but that geography made it a prime location for a Nazi invasion and East Anglians did everything in their power to stop them.
Arthur begins his walk in Leiston, on the Suffolk coast. Here he discovers how coastal defences were built to impede Nazi troops, including concrete blocks, exploding riverbanks and even a pillbox hidden in a church.
From Leiston, Arthur heads to Great Yarmouth to learn how the locals were preparing for an invasion. Not only did they mine the tourist beach, but they blew up the historic pier, to prevent German boats from docking.
From Great Yarmouth, Arthur walks inland to Wroxham the capital of the Broads. Famed for its boatyards, the outbreak of war brought manufacture to an abrupt halt, but that was short-lived. The boatbuilders were soon working round the clock to supply the Navy with high-speed rescue launches to save downed RAF pilots from the North Sea.
Despite being outnumbered, the RAF had a secret weapon against the Luftwaffe, RADAR. From Wroxham, Arthur sails up the River Bure to the Radar Museum at RAF Neatishead. RAF Neatishead was one of a series of Radar stations, all along the East coast. They could detect incoming aircraft whilst they were still over France, enabling the RAF’s entire force to be scrambled directly into the path of the Luftwaffe.
Arthur’s final stop is the sleepy village of Itteringham. Here bankers and bakers became Home Guard soldiers to protect the homeland from a Nazi Invasion. Contrary to the doddering ‘Dad’s Army’ stereotypes, the Home Guard, were a ‘Lads Army’ with an average age of 35. They were a well-trained outfit, ready to pick off tanks and troops with their mortars and grenades.
Monday 11th October, 5:30pm, 11 of 20
This week a new group of campsite critics go in search of the Perfect Pitch along the prehistoric Jurassic Coast. Will vintage caravanners Steph and Cam, the Webber family from Wolverhampton or Nik & Harriet in their massive RV, make any ground-breaking discoveries at Exmouth County Lodge? This water sports haven has a laid-back vibe but there’s no time to chill, it’s all action as the group attempt giant paddle boarding, take a scenic coastal cruise and get competitive with a campsite game of archery tag. Will all this adrenaline activity tempt this fastidious bunch to award a top rating?
Tuesday 12th October, 5:30pm, 12 of 20
The second stop on their Jurassic Coast adventure in search of the Perfect Pitch takes seasoned tourers Steph & Cam, Harriet & Nik and the the Webber family to Oakdown Caravan Park. After pitching up the campers swing into action at the onsite 9-hole par 3 golf course, discover the charms of world renowned Chalmouth beach as they hunt for fossils and immerse themselves in mud at a local family friendly assault course. But amongst all the fun and frolics will they unearth a winning campsite?
Wednesday 13th October, 5:30pm, 13 of 20
Mid-way through their tour of the Jurassic Coasts premier pitches our tough to please campers arrive at Higher Moor Farm in Weymouth. This location started life catering for the London Olympics Sailing crowds and host Daniel is determined to keep the spirit of 2012 alive for his competitive guests. Events begin with a Dorset Pastie bake-off and a traditional hoe-down, then it’s off to Weymouth Harbour for a taste of Olympic sailing before returning to camp for a highly competitive Dorset Games. Can Daniel secure a top rating putting his campsite in the race for the Perfect Pitch winner’s plaque?
Thursday 14th October, 5:30pm, 14 of 20
Their search for the Jurassic Coast’s perfect pitch takes our camping connoisseurs to the rural retreat of Longthorns Farm. This family friendly working farm has been welcoming campers since 1976 and boasts 47 acres of fields and woodland walks which our campers explore as they take a herd of Alpacas on a soothing stroll. There’s fun for all the family here as the adults have a shot at clay pigeon shooting then it’s off to the seaside for a spot of sand sculpting and coastal kayaking. Will the hosts have impressed our holidaymakers enough to score a coveted 5-star rating?
Friday 15th October, 5:30pm, 15 of 20
Its back-to-basics wild camping for our fussy tourers, Steph and Cameron, Harriet and Nik and The Webbers at Redlands Coppice. This unique off grid pop-up site can be tailored to its guests’ desires as each pitch is an entire field amongst stunning Dorset countryside. Host Cameron has organised a package including a Highland Cattle experience, cocktail making masterclass and gourmet BBQ to welcome his guests. Then it’s back to sea for a white-knuckle boat tour before returning to camp for some extreme survival role play. Can Redlands Coppice light the campers’ fires as they vote for their Perfect Pitch.
Monday 11th October, 5pm, 21 of 40
Four sets of B&B owners battle to be named best value for money.
The competition kicks off in Egton Bridge, North Yorkshire with the Horseshoe Hotel where experienced publican Craig and his sister Greta are hoping their hard work and green credentials can win over their rivals. On arrival guests Andy and Joanne have brew machine blues and Alex has a break to remember. In the morning, the guests talk up the eco toiletries, and a broken bed didn’t give Alex a sleepless night. At the breakfast table everyone is impressed by the offering, leading to big scores at feedback.
Tuesday 12th October, 5pm, 22 of 40
Four proud B&B owners battle to be named best value for money.
The second visit is to The Dixie Arms in Market Bosworth, owned by Alex McDonald. On arrival Jo and Andy are impressed by the blingy beds, but Craig and Greta find facilities faults. The guests experience an emotional host over drinks, but at breakfast everyone is wowed by Alex’s hospitality leading to tears at feedback.
Wednesday 13th October, 5pm, 23 of 40
Four proud B&B owners battle to be named best value for money.
The third visit is to Bradburys of Blackpool in Lancashire, where former flight attendant Matt is hoping to change peoples perceptions of the town. On arrival Craig and Greta have parking trouble while Andy and Jo revel in the walk-in wardrobe. Following on from her feedback, Alex feels differently about Craig and Greta. Breakfast is a supersized affair with both Andy and Craig paying extra for a breakfast on a tray – and the guests are suitably impressed by the offering. And come feedback there are surprising answers.
Thursday 14th October, 5pm, 24 of 40
Four proud B&B owners battle to be named best value for money.
The final visit of the week is to Little Oakhurst, in Stonyhurst near Clitheroe, owned by husband and wife Joanne and Andy Collinge. On arrival, the guests are captivated by the stunning location, with views over the Lancashire countryside. But the optional and additional breakfast brings mixed reviews and at feedback time, Joanne and Andy discover glamping is not for everyone.
Friday 15th October, 5pm, 25 of 40
It’s the final day of the competition and the B&B owners are meeting for the last time to find out what they’ve been paid and to settle some scores.
Horseshoe Hotel is first and owner Craig and his sister Greta need to dig into Alex’s sleep score as well as the brew machine issues flagged by Joanne and Andy. Next, Alex of The Dixie Arms has a score to settle with Craig and Greta. Third to grill their rivals are Matt and Jay of Bradbury’s of Blackpool who want to tackle Alex’s cleanliness comments as well as question Craig and Greta about their parking problems.
Finally it’s Joanne and Andy of Little Oakhurst, who have issues with Alex’s facility feedback as well as Matt and Jay’s suggestion that their additional breakfast should be included. After strong opinions are aired and differences debated, the payments are revealed, before the winner is finally announced.
Britain's sharpest armchair critics share their insightful and passionate takes on the week's biggest and best shows. From entertainment juggernauts and the week's biggest news stories, to hard-hitting documentary series and gritty drama, Gogglebox offers sharp, hilarious and often emotional critiques of popular and topical TV shows.