Cast of steeltown murders

Steeltown Murders: BBC confirm start date for true crime about Port Talbot serial killer Joseph Kappen

The murder of three young women remained unsolved for 30 years...

| Updated:

BBC One has confirmed the start date for its new true crime series Steeltown Murders, based on three horrific murders in Wales.

Following on from the immense success of The Pembrokeshire Murders in 2021, this new drama will focus on another tragic string of murders in Wales.

The case remained unsolved for 30 years, until a breakthrough in forensics helped police finally find the serial killer Joseph Kappen.

Here’s everything we know so far about Steeltown Murders on BBC One, including its start date, cast, plot and filming locations.

The cast of Steeltown Murders on BBC One
Steeltown Murders starts in May 2023 (Credit: BBC One)

Steeltown Murders on BBC One plot – what’s it about?

The upcoming Steeltown Murders is a true crime drama series based on the real life murders of three girls in Wales. Like the sublime 2022 BBC One hit Sherwood, it will jump between recent times, and the past.

Set in both 1973 and the early 2000s, Steeltown Murders centres on the hunt to catch serial killer Joseph Kappen. The serial killer murdered three young women in the Port Talbot area in the early 1970s.

The remarkable story tells how – in the first case of its kind – the mystery was solved almost 30 years later using pioneering DNA evidence.

Steeltown Murders is a portrait of a town dealing with the repercussions of an unsolved case three decades on. It contrasts the policing methods of the 1970s with the forensic breakthroughs of the early Noughties,

It asks if justice can ever truly be found.

Is Steeltown Murders a true story?

Steeltown Murders is based on real events.

Welsh serial killer Joseph Kappen committed the rape and murder of three teenage girls in Llandarcy and Tonmawr, near his home town of Port Talbot, in 1973.

He murdered 16-year-old Geraldine Hughes and her best friend Pauline Floyd, also 16. Weeks later, he killed Sandra Newton, who was also tragically young at 16. Kappen is also suspected of committing a fourth murder in February 1976.

The case is notable because Kappen was the first person ever to be posthumously identified as a serial killer via familial DNA profiling. He’s also the first documented serial killer in Welsh history.

Kappen was never arrested for his crimes, because he had died before the police identified him. Police named him the Saturday Night Strangler.

Keith Allen as Dai Williams, and Sharon Morgan as Pat Williams in Steeltown Murders
Keith Allen as Dai Williams, and Sharon Morgan as Pat Williams in Steeltown Murders (Credit: BBC One)

How many episodes is Steeltown Murders on BBC One?

Steeltown Murders is a four-part series. Each episode will be one hour long.

BBC Wales co-commissioned the series.

Steeltown Murders start date on BBC One

Steeltown Murders will launch at 9pm on Monday, May 15, 2023.

It will air on BBC One, with all episodes then available on BBC iPlayer.

Matthew Gravelle as Tom Faulkner in Silent Witness
Matthew Gravelle, seen here as Tom Faulkner in Silent Witness, joins the cast of Steeltown Murders (Credit: BBC One)

Where is Steeltown Murders filmed?

Filming took place on locations across south Wales in 2022.

Rebecca Ferguson, Commissioning Editor for BBC Drama, says: “Steeltown Murders is an important account of the events that affected a Welsh community in 1973.

“The series explores the very nature of justice and what it means to live on in the shadow of such brutal tragedy.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Director of Creative Wales, Gerwyn Evans, says: “This important new drama will bring to light the impact these tragic events had on the community.

“It’s important that these Welsh stories are told to an international audience.

“This production also showcases Welsh talent both in front of and behind the camera.”

Who is in the cast of Steeltown Murders on BBC One?

Philip Glenister portrays DCI Paul Bethell in the cast of Steeltown Murders on BBC One.

Of course, TV fans will know him as DCI Gene Hunt in Life on Mars,

Philips says: “Ed Whitmore’s scripts are a poignant and compelling read, balancing the tragic events alongside the revolutionary advances in DNA profiling which were crucial in this case and many others since.

“I’m also very happy to be part of a production filmed in south Wales where I have my own family connections.”

Meanwhile, Good Omens star Scott Arthur portrays a young DCI Paul Bethell.

Gavin & Stacey actor Steffan Rhodri plays Phil ‘Bach’ Rees, and Hidden’s Siôn Alun Davies stars as his younger self.

Keith Allen, who played killer John Cooper in The Pembrokeshire Murders, also appears.

Aneurin Barnard, recently seen in the Channel 5 thriller The Catch, will star as serial killer Joseph Kappen.

Industry actress Priyanga Burford joins the cast, alongside Gangs of London actress Sharon Morgan, Red Rose’s Nia Roberts, and Vikings star Elinor Crawley.

The cast also includes Y Pris star Gareth John Bale, The Larkins‘ Kriss Dosanjh, Mr Selfridge’s Amy Morgan, and Bang’s Dyfan Dwyfor.

Priyanga Burford stars in the cast of Steeltown Murders (Credit: BBC One)
Priyanga Burford stars in the cast of Steeltown Murders (Credit: BBC One)

Who wrote Steeltown Murders on BBC One?

Ed Whitmore wrote Steeltown Murders on BBC One.

He says: “I was drawn to this tragic true story because it’s ultimately as much about the scarring effects of an unsolved crime on a community as it is the crime itself.

“The narrative unfolds on two timelines – 1973 and 2002 – and the chance to chart the interweaving lives of our characters across this epic canvas is quite simply a gift to a dramatist.”

TV viewers will know Ed from Manhunt, Viewpoint, Silent Witness, Safehouse, Rillington Place, and Strike Back.

Read more: The Pembrokeshire Murders: John Cooper drama becomes ITV’s biggest drama since 2006

YouTube video player

Steeltown Murders will start at 9pm on Monday, May 15, 2023 on BBC One. All episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer.

Will you be watching Steeltown Murders on BBC One? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor