True crime documentaries

BBC Select delves into the world of past and present true crime, hosting a number of disturbing BBC documentaries. You can watch these studies featuring the likes of Jack the Ripper and Jimmy Saville in the US and Canada today.



In 1991, Michael Sams abducted and killed teenager Julie Dart. The following year he kidnapped a real estate agent called Stephanie Slater, keeping her imprisoned for 8 days. Using a combination of dramatic reconstruction, archive and interviews with people closely involved with the case, this true crime documentary reveals the motives behind the crimes and how Sams was finally captured.

Episode 1: Inside a Killer’s Mind
What were the motives behind the hideous crimes of murderer and kidnapper Michael Sams? What drove Michael Sams to murder Julie Dart and kidnap Stephanie Slater? This compelling true crime documentary looks at both of these disturbing cases and the motives behind them. Combining reconstructions, archive footage and new interviews, the film reveals how the extortionist and murderer evaded a huge operation, as the police realized that Stephanie’s kidnapper was also Julie’s murderer.

Episode 2: Hunting a Killer
How did murderer and kidnapper Michael Sams avoid capture despite a huge police operation? The bravery of kidnap victim Stephanie Slater led directly to the capture of her abductor Michael Sams. But how did he evade the police for so long? This thrilling true crime documentary looks at the surprising release of Stephanie and the eventual apprehension of Sams. Once the authorities realized Sams had committed another heinous crime, the pressure to find him intensified.

National Security: The Treholt Story

National Security: The Treholt Story

On January 24, 1984, Arne Treholt, a well-known Norwegian career diplomat and politician, left the Foreign Ministry in Oslo on his way to the airport to catch a flight to Vienna. Hours later he sat in a police interrogation room, under arrest, charged with spying for the Soviet Union. This thrilling documentary tells this true story of international espionage and treachery at the highest levels.


The FBI covertly begin to monitor a Norwegian politician. But what are their suspicions?

One day in January, in the early 1980s, the FBI moves into an apartment in Manhattan. Their job is to spy on the neighbors across the hall, a Norwegian diplomat and his family. But what do they suspect? This thrilling political documentary begins to tell the remarkable story of Arne Treholt, suspected of being a possible agent for the enemy in the east, the Soviet KGB.

The World’s Second Oldest Profession
How does a spy become a spy and what are the processes used to recruit them?

Young journalist Arne Treholt is introduced to a Soviet diplomat at a party. Shortly thereafter he is invited to dinners by this diplomat without knowing he works for the KGB. All countries attempt to obtain information from enemy countries, preferably through human sources. This engrossing documentary looks at how such a
cultivation process begins. Did Arne even know he was being recruited?

It Just Happened
Arne begins delicate negotiations with Russia, while also relaying secret information.

Arne Treholt’s career is taking off. He is becoming a powerful politician. He negotiates with the Russians regarding important territorial waters off the coast of Norway. But, as this thrilling documentary reveals, he also maintains secret relations with the KGB. What is the truth regarding Treholt’s dealings with the Russians, and what was the Soviet Union concerned about during the Cold War?

A Channel For Dialogue
A top job should have been the pinnacle of his career. But it was the start of the end.

When Norway joins the UN Security Council in 1979, Arne Treholt moves to New York to work as a diplomat. But as this fascinating documentary shows, a sense of adventure drives him to resume contact with the former KGB chief at the Norwegian embassy. This decision proves to be fateful. Behind the scenes the FBI, MI6 and Russian double agents begin to take an interest in Arne.

Cosmic Top Secret
A net begins to close in on Arne Treholt as he’s witnessed contacting enemy agents.

A new job for Treholt allows him access to top secret information, even though the Norwegian authorities suspect him of espionage. As this gripping documentary reveals, police monitor him by means of telephone tapping and cameras in his apartment. During a search, they make a decisive discovery which, for the first time, enables them to witness secret meetings between Treholt and the KGB.

The Spy Paragraph
Treholt is caught and sentenced to life. But questions still remain about his conviction.

Arne Treholt is caught and convicted. But, as this fascinating documentary concludes, questions still remain. Was it sufficiently proven that he passed information on to the KGB that endangered Norway’s security? Was there enough evidence to prove Treholt was a spy and deserved a life sentence? Is it possible, 40 years later, to find out why the authorities in the Kremlin valued Treholt?

Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop

Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop

Johnny Kitagawa’s legendary talent agency trained young boys to become superstars. But for over 50 years, Japan has kept Kitagawa’s dark secret. A history of sexual abuse allegations. Even after Kitagawa’s death in 2019, the media remained largely silent. Why? This disturbing documentary explores the suffocating reality of being a J-pop idol and the brutal consequences of turning a blind eye.

The Hooded Men: Britain's Torture Playbook

The Hooded men

1971. Northern Ireland. Fourteen men are subjected to what the British describe as ‘deep interrogation’, which amounts to a secret torture program. They become known as the Hooded Men. For 50 years they have campaigned for the truth of what happened to them to be recognized. Now, the full horror of one of the darkest episodes in British intelligence history can be revealed.

The Murder of Grace Millane: Social Media Murders

Image of Grace Millane and her twitter profile on mobile

What role did social media play in the murder of 22-year-old British backpacker Grace Millane, who went missing while on a Tinder date in New Zealand in 2018? Featuring interviews with people who knew Grace or were involved with the investigation, this compelling true crime documentary explores this disturbing case that shocked the world.