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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Serial Killer with Piers Morgan and the problem with ITV factual.

There are three words guaranteed to make most documentary lovers shudder: ITV Factual Entertainment. Uuugh! The most recent show to fall under that umbrella was 'Gone to Pot' a three-parter that sent a few celebs over to America to investigate the positives and the pitfalls of using medical marijuana. The show itself wasn't as awful as its premise would have you believe but ITV dressed it up in a fashion that almost mocked the show before we had chance to make our own minds up about it. What could've been quite a serious documentary about celebs who suffer with ailments in search of an new treatment, was dressed up with over the top opening credits and demeaned further by having the celebs travel on a psychedelic bus.  The show might've had its heart in the right place but it poked too much fun at itself.

Conversely, their Crime & Punishment season which has aired over the past few weeks took itself far too seriously. The shows were nothing special, Channel 4 and BBC2 have the real crime documentary sewn up. These Crime & Punishment was fronted by the predictable ITV faces: Susannah Reid, Sir Trevor MacDonald and perhaps the worst offender Piers Morgan. 


Serial Killer with Piers Morgan, in which Mr Morgan sat down with Mark Riebe, an American murderer convicted of only one murder, yet withdrew confessions for the murders of twelve other women could've proved interesting.  There was an immediate lack of understanding and communication between the pair as Riebe informed Piers that he was hard of hearing, and his response was that of awkwardness and patronisation.

Similar to Gone to Pot, the direction the programme makers decided to take the show made it almost unwatchable. I didn’t think there was a need for all the dramatic, pretentious shots of Morgan stood in a heroic manner in front of a dimly lit investigation board doing his best  Sherlock  impression, nor did I think that a cameraman needed to follow him as he walked through the forest in which the bodies had been found, candidly looking off into the distance. These elements of the programme may have been the fault of the confusing atmosphere of arrogance and amateurism I felt throughout.

I feel that Piers’ interviewing techniques are very transparent as it’s incredibly easy to see what he attempts to do. He constantly, (and I mean constantly) tries to convince Riebe and the audience that he is “not judging” him and he just wants him to “be as honest as you want to be”, yet consistently attempts to present him as a disgusting and vile character.


For example, when Riebe tells him that he confessed to the murders in front of his relatives, Piers feels the need to repeat this fact three times, phrasing the most emotive elements in slightly different ways, of course. The interview even became almost an argument between two children at one point when they began to go back and forth over who brought up special agent Dennis Halley first. A “You brought him up first” “No you did” type of dialogue should not at all be a part of such a serious and dark programme. How many of you have seen similar speech in an episode of The Chuckle Brothers or Dick and Dom? I think that this moment perhaps supports my feelings toward this article the best.

Furthermore, I felt that for someone attempting to stick up for women, and exploiting the misogynistic attitudes of Mark Riebe, he didn’t have a problem with using the stereotypes of men to his advantage during his immature little outburst at the end of the interview. “Why don’t you sit here like a man and admit it?” To shout after the man that he murdered thirteen women, an issue which is in dispute, you make yourself look like the stereotypical mother character in every British crime drama screaming “killer!” at the back of a police van. He attempted to present himself as strong and passionate but to be honest I thought he looked extremely amateurish and quite unprofessional.

Now do not get me wrong: I think that Mark Reibe is a disgusting and pathetic excuse for a human being and it is completely certain that he is a serial killer and deserves his life sentence, but I really do not think that Piers Morgan was suitable for such a job. His history in dealing with controversial issues was almost reincarnated within the programme, and I felt that there could perhaps have been a much more successful journalist for such a story. Louis Theroux, perhaps. But then, I could name any number of programmes that could be improved by Theroux.

Contributed by Kaia Yeomans

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