The Pembrokeshire Murders true story

The Pembrokeshire Murders premieres on ITV with Luke Evans

Luke Evans and Keith Allen star in this true crime thriller

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The Pembrokeshire Murders, the ITV drama based on a true story, finally kicks off tonight, starring Welsh actors Luke Evans and Keith Allen.

Luke, star of The Hobbit and Beauty and the Beast, plays Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins, who’s on the hunt for a serial killer.

Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming series The Pembrokeshire Murders, including the real story.

Luke Evans in The Pembrokeshire Murders
Luke Evans in The Pembrokeshire Murders on ITV1 (Credit: ITV)

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What is The Pembrokeshire Murders about?

The Pembrokeshire Murders is a new true crime drama starring Hollywood actor Luke Evans.

It follows the story of four cold-case murders and Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins’ quest to bring serial killer John Cooper to justice.

As a result of watching a 1990s episode of Bullseye, the killer was cornered.

ITV says: “Two unsolved double murders from the 1980s cast a shadow over the work of the Dyfed Powys police force.

“In 2006, newly promoted Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins decided to reopen both cases.

“Employing pioneering forensic methods, Wilkins and his handpicked team found microscopic DNA and fibres that potentially linked the murders to a string of burglaries committed in the 80s and 90s.”

John Cooper on Bullseye with Jim Bowen (Credit: YouTube)

Is The Pembrokeshire Murders based on a true story?

The Pembrokeshire Murders is based on the true story of serial killer John Cooper, also known as The Game Show Killer.

He brutally killed Helen and Richard Thomas, and Gwenda and Peter Dixon in 1985 and 1989 respectively.

Furthermore, the double murders in Wales in the 1980s remained unsolved for years.

In 2006, newly-promoted DS Wilkins decided to reopen two unsolved 1980s murder cases linked with a string of burglaries.

New advances in technology for Forensic DNA analysis, and witness reports of artist impressions of the suspect all led Dyfed-Powys Police to the killer.

Wilkins watched a 1989 episode of Bullseye, which led to the serial killer finally being caught.

Most noteworthy, the same year John committed several horrific murders, he dared to appear on national TV.

Serial killer John Cooper will be portrayed by Welsh actor Keith Allen (Credit: ITV)

Who was John Cooper?

John Cooper led two lives – in contrast to his life as a family man, he was also a serial killer.

First of all, he murdered Helen and Richard Thomas in 1985.

Finally, he killed Gwenda and Peter Dixon in 1989.

John eluded prosecution for his crimes for 20 years until a combination of a new detective team and advances in forensic science finally brought him to justice in 2011.

In 2018, ITV aired a documentary on his crimes entitled The Game Show Serial Killer: Police Tapes (see trailer below).

John’s crimes were uncovered after a stint in prison for a series of burglaries in the county during the 1980s.

How many episodes is The Pembrokeshire Murders?

The Pembrokeshire Murders is a three-part television drama.

Each episode is expected to be one hour long.

keith allen on The Chase
Keith Allen, here appearing on The Chase, will take on a sinister role (Credit: ITV)

Who stars in The Pembrokeshire Murders?

Fast & Furious star Luke Evans plays DS Wilkins, who helps bring John Cooper to justice.

Shallow Grave star Keith Allen, dad of singer Lily, plays serial killer John Cooper.

Game of Thrones’ Owen Teale stars as Gerard Elias.

In My Skin actress Alexandria Riley portrays DI Ella Richards.

Is The Pembrokeshire Murders based on a book?

The drama is based on the book, Catching the Bullseye Killer, by Steve Wilkins.

It tells the story of Operation Ottawa, the cold case detection of John Cooper for two Pembrokeshire double killings.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Wilkins tells how he gathered a specialist team to review the murders.

He used cutting edge forensic techniques to prove Cooper’s involvement in the crimes.

Luke Evans looking seriously hot
Actor Luke Evans swaps Hollywood films for a rare appearance on British TV (Credit: Splash)

Who is Luke Evans?

Luke George Evans was born in Pontypool, Wales, and grew up in Aberbargoed, in the south of Wales.

He has starred in many of London’s West End theatre productions, before landing big roles in film.

In 2009, he won the role of Apollo in Clash of the Titans.

Consequently, he went on to star as Owen Shaw in the Fast & Furious franchise.

He also starred as Bard in The Hobbit, and Gaston in Beauty and the Beast.

The gay actor, 41, made his relationship with art director Rafa Olarra Instagram official in January 2020.

When does The Pembrokshire Murders start?

The Pembrokeshire Murders will begin on ITV at 9pm on Monday January 11 2021.

The three-part series will continue on Tuesday 12 and conclude on Wednesday 13.

Where did filming of The Pembrokeshire Murders take place?

Filming took place in Wales ahead of lockdown, with shoots on location in west Wales and also on set in Cardiff.

Scenes were also filmed in Goodwick and Fishguard and along the coastal path.


The Pembrokeshire Murders is stripped acorss ITV at 9pm on Monday January 11 until Wednesday January 13.

Do you remember The Pembrokeshire Murders case? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor