Jeff Pope finds the drama in true stories
Jeff Pope, a writer-producer specialising in dramas based on real stories, is back with the recent ITV show Little Boy Blue, dramatising the Liverpool shooting of an 11-year-old child.
At a time when appetite for true crime and docudrama material is high, Pope’s projects are distinguished by the care with which he selects, researches, and even personally gets to know his subjects.
Many of these series were shot with equipment from Aimimage, including Mo, Appropriate Adult and Lucan.
The 2010 Channel 4 movie Mo, which Pope executive produced, focused on the New Labour politician Mo Mowlam, Northern Ireland Secretary during the Good Friday Agreement. She died in 2005 of a brain tumour that she had kept hidden from Tony Blair and voters.
Starring Julie Walters, directed by Philip Martin (Birdsong, The Crown) and written by Neil McKay, it reached over 3.5 million viewers on its original airing.
Appropriate Adult (2011) took a lateral approach to the story of notorious serial killers Fred and Rose West. Jeff Pope executive produced ITV’s dramatic retelling in the form of a two-part miniseries from the point of view of Janet Leach (Emily Watson), the woman police requested to sit in with Fred West during his interviews. Dominic West and Monica Dolan played Fred and Rose respectively.
In 2013, Jeff Pope wrote Lucan, again for ITV. A two-part drama about about Lord Lucan, the peer who disappeared mysteriously in the ’70s after being accused of murdering his family, it starred Rory Kinnear.
Jeff Pope explained to Broadcast Magazine the careful thought process that goes into choosing his subjects:
“The lead times on these dramas are a year and a half, so they have to be stories that linger in the public consciousness. With some stories, you think: ‘absolutely, that would be great,’ but they don’t seem relevant three or four weeks later. Something that sticks with you is what I’m after.”
Little Boy Blue aired on ITV in April and May and is available now on DVD. Mo, Appropriate Adult and Lucan are available now on DVD.