Yorkshire Ripper drama ITV
True Crime

Netflix’s ‘The Ripper’ series faces backlash from victims’ families

The serial killer got away with murder for five years before he was finally caught

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The Ripper on Netflix chronicles the largest manhunt in British police history – but why are the families of his victims angry about the series?

How many did he kill?

And how did he get away with it for five years before his eventual capture?

Here’s everything you need to know about the Netflix true crime documentary series…

Police hunt for Peter Sutcliffe
The hunt for Peter Sutcliffe was the largest in police history (Credit: Netflix)

Read more: Yorkshire Ripper drama: ITV commissions true-crime series about Peter Sutcliffe

What is The Ripper on Netflix about?

The Ripper is a limited series on Netflix.

It chronicles the hunt for the serial killer, known as the Yorkshire Ripper.

The service provider are keen to reassure viewers that the series is NOT about glamourising Peter Sutcliffe.

The Ripper looks at how the media and police viewed the victims as prostitutes at that time.

It also examines the poverty, class and sexism issues that were prevalent in England in the late 70s.

This all played a significant part in Peter Sutcliffe remaining uncaught for five years.

How many parts is The Ripper on Netflix?

The Ripper is a four-part docu-series.

The true crime limited series comes just weeks after Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe died of coronavirus.

Police hunt for Peter Sutcliffe
Why are families of victims angry about The Ripper on Netflix? (Credit: Netflix)

Read more: Coronation Street actor Bruce Jones hopes Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe will ‘rot in hell’

Why are the families of victims angry about The Ripper?

Richard McCann, son of first known victim Wilma, has expressed anger towards the show.

He tweeted last week: “Can people of Twitter please show @NetflixUK how inappropriate it to call their new series about the crimes of Sutcliffe ‘The Ripper’.

“Nine families affected by his crimes have asked for it to be changed out of respect for our mothers/sisters/daughters.”

The families of Peter Sutcliffe’s victims say hearing the term “ripper” is traumatising for them to hear.

Netflix changed the name of its upcoming documentary from Once Upon a Time in Yorkshire to The Ripper.

In a letter written to the company, they described the term as “irresponsible, insensitive and insulting to our families”.

Netflix reportedly changed the name after the families agreed to take part in the documentary.

In the letter, they said: “The moniker ‘the Yorkshire Ripper’ has traumatised us and our families for the past four decades.

“It glorifies the brutal violence of Peter Sutcliffe, and grants him a celebrity status that he does not deserve.”

When does The Ripper start?

The limited series arrives on Netflix on Wednesday December 16 2020.

The season will premiere in the UK from 8am that day.

Richard McCann, the son of Peter's first victim Wilma (Credit: Netflix)
Richard McCann, the son of Peter’s first victim Wilma, is one of the family members angry about the show (Credit: Netflix)

What did the Yorkshire Ripper die of?

Peter Sutcliffe was treated at University Hospital of North Durham in late October 2020.

The hospital was three miles from the maximum security HMP Frankland jail where he was an inmate.

He suffered a suspected heart attack, but then tested positive for coronavirus after leaving hospital.

Reports claim that he was refusing treatment.

He died in hospital on Friday November 13 after his lungs collapsed.

The convicted killer died while serving 20 concurrent life sentences.

How many people did Peter Sutcliffe kill?

Peter Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven more.

But we will never truly know just how many women he killed.

His 13 known murder victims are:

Wilma McCann (Leeds 1975)

Emily Jackson (Leeds 1976)

Irene Richardson (Leeds 1977)

Patricia “Tina” Atkinson (Bradford 1977)

Jayne MacDonald (Leeds 1977)

Jean Jordan (Manchester 1977)

Yvonne Pearson (Bradford 1978)

Helen Rytka (Huddersfield 1978)

Vera Millward (Manchester 1978)

Josephine Whitaker (Halifax 1979)

Barbara Leach (Bradford 1979)

Marguerite Walls (Leeds 1980)

Jacqueline Hill (Leeds 1980)

Peter Sutcliffe's victims
Peter Sutcliffe’s victims (Credit: ITV News YouTube)

When did the Yorkshire Ripper kill his victims?

Peter Sutcliffe’s murders cast a dark shadow over the lives of women in the North of England from 1975 to 1980.

In five years, 13 women had been murdered and the police were no nearer to catching the killer.

When was Peter Sutcliffe jailed?

Peter Sutcliffe was eventually jailed in 1981.

Police caught him with a 24-year-old prostitute called Olivia Reivers on January 2 1981.

He was arrested when police realised his car had false number plates.

Officers soon noticed that he shared many physical characteristics with the Yorkshire Ripper.

They later found a knife, hammer and rope which the killer had dumped the previous day.

Peter Sutcliffe finally admitted he was the Yorkshire Ripper after two days of intensive questioning.

In 2010, the High Court dismissed an appeal by Peter Sutcliffe, confirming he would never be released from custody.


The Ripper streams on Netflix from 8am on Wednesday December 16 2020.

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Helen Fear
TV Editor