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    13 Dramas Based On Real Crimes That You Should Watch Once You've Finished "The Serpent"

    From spree killers to international espionage, these dramas delve into the crimes that shocked the world.

    So, you've finished The Serpent, the drama based on the crimes of real '70s serial killer Charles Sobhraj, and now you want more.


    Well, here are some true crime dramatisations that paint such vivid pictures of some chilling events, you'll be thinking about them long after you've finished watching.

    1. Des


    Set in the early ‘80s, this miniseries delves into the shocking crimes of Dennis Nilsen, who murdered at least 12 young men after luring them into his home. Known as the Muswell Hill Murderer, Nilsen was arrested after he and his neighbours made complaints of blocked pipes, which led to the discovery of human remains in their drains. This telling of the events is as gripping as it is horrifying, and David Tennant manages to embody Nilsen in the most chilling of ways.

    Starring: David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen, Daniel Mays as Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay, Jason Watkins as biographer Brian Masters.

    Where to watch: ITV Player (UK), Amazon Prime (USA)

    2. American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace


    This is the second season of Ryan Murphy’s true crime anthology series, and it explores the life and mind of Andrew Cunanan, a young man from California who murdered five people (including Gianni Versace) in 1997. The series shows us Versace’s life in the months before his death, meanwhile we follow Cunanan from childhood up until his devastating killing spree.

    Starring: Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan, Édgar Ramírez as Gianni Versace, Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace, Ricky Martin as Antonio D'Amicox.

    Where to watch: Netflix

    3. Appropriate Adult


    This two-part series follows Janet Leach, the social worker who prolific British serial killer Fred West privately confessed his crimes to, and her overall involvement in the case. There are countless documentaries that explore Fred and Rose West’s unthinkable actions, but Appropriate Adult offers a pretty unique insight into the case and shows just how many lives were impacted by the crimes.

    Starring: Dominic West as Fred West, Emily Watson as Janet Leach, Monica Dolan as Rose West.

    Where to watch: BritBox (UK) Prime Video (US)

    4. Dirty John


    Ah dirty, dirty John. The story of a charismatic man who told Debra, the woman he was dating, he was an anesthesiologist, and they hit it off straight away. It’s a true crime dramatisation so obviously there’s way more to it, and John’s presence has a devastating impact on Debra’s family. With all the twists and turns, there are so many moments that feel too wild to be true, but they are.

    Starring: Connie Britton as Debra Newell, Eric Bana as John Meehan, Juno Temple as Veronica Newell.

    Julia Garner as Terra Newell

    Where to watch: Netflix

    5. The Spy


    Taking place in the years before the 1967 Six-Day War between Syria and Israel, the story follows the past of Eli Cohen – one of Israel’s top spies, who was convicted of espionage and executed in 1965.

    Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen as Eli Cohen, Hadar Ratzon-Rotem as Nadia Cohen, Yael Eitan as Maya.

    Where to watch: Netflix

    6. The Moorside


    No murder in this one, but The Moorside tells the story that gripped the British public for weeks – the disappearance of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews. The two-part drama follows the detectives and volunteers who searched for Shannon before discovering that Shannon’s mum, Karen was involved in the disappearance. Written by Neil McKay (Appropriate Adult), Gemma Whelan’s portrayal of Karen has been praised for showing a side to the mother that wasn’t shown in the press.

    Starring: Sheridan Smith as Julie Bushby, Gemma Whelan as Karen Matthews, Sian Brooke as Natalie Brown.

    Where to watch: Britbox (UK)

    7. Rillington Place


    Rillington Place was the address where John Christie and Timothy Evans lived in the ‘40s. This story has some twists and turns, so stick with me. In 1950, Timothy was executed after being convicted of the killing of his wife and baby daughter, but during his trial, he accused his neighbour John (who also happened to be the chief prosecution witness) of the murders. A few years after the execution, Christie was found to be a serial killer and confessed to murdering at least eight people, obviously raising serious doubts in Evans’ conviction. This is a complex story told in a clever way – there are three episodes and they’re told from the respective points of view of the two men, and Christie’s wife, Ethel.

    Starring: Tim Roth as John Christie, Samantha Morton as Ethel Christie, Nico Mirallegro as Timothy Evans, Jodie Comer as Beryl Evans.

    Where to watch: SkyGo (UK) Shudder (USA)

    8. See No Evil: The Moors Murders


    Myra Hindley and Ian Brady are probably two of the most notorious killers in British history – the pair were found to have assaulted and murdered a number of young victims before burying them in Saddleworth Moor. This was the first dramatisation of the chilling events and is told from the perspective of Hindley’s sister, Maureen, whose husband turned the couple in.

    Starring: Joanne Froggatt as Maureen Smith, Sean Harris as Ian Brady, Maxine Peake as Myra Hindley, Matthew McNulty as David Smith.

    Where to watch: Britbox (UK) Prime Video (USA)

    9. A Very English Scandal


    Set in 1965, this story follows the years leading up to the public scandal involving MP Jeremy Thorpe. He was accused of hiring a hitman to kill his alleged former lover, Norman Scott over fears his secret relationship would be made public (at the time, gay sexual activity was illegal). The comedy-drama is an adaptation of a true-crime novel, and was written by Russell T Davies, which tells you all you need to know really.

    Starring: Hugh Grant as Jeremy Thorpe, Ben Whishaw as Norman Josiffe/Norman Scott.

    Where to watch: Prime Video

    10. Alias Grace


    Who is alias Grace, I hear you ask. Well, she was an Irish born maid who was working for a family in Ontario, Canada in the mid-1800s. When her employer and housekeeper were murdered, she was convicted, but some people weren’t convinced about her involvement in the killings. The series is based on a novel by Margaret Atwood, who added some fictional plotlines to the factual events.

    Starring: Sarah Gadon as Grace Marks, Edward Holcroft as Dr. Simon Jordan, Rebecca Liddiard as Mary Whitney, Zachary Levi as Jeremiah the Peddler.

    Where to watch: Netflix

    11. Mindhunter


    Okay, so you’ve probably seen Mindhunter already, but on the off-chance that you haven’t, let me break it down for you: it’s an adaption of a true-crime book that takes us into the FBI’s serial crime unit, following staff as they interview serial killers in an attempt to understand the psychology behind their actions. Notorious figures including Charles Manson, David Berkowitz, and Dennis Rader crop up, and it’s a must-watch for anyone interested in criminal psychology.

    Starring: Jonathan Groff as Holden Ford, Holt McCallany as Bill Tench, Anna Torv as Wendy Carr.

    Where to watch: Netflix

    12. The Act


    This eight-part drama follows the famous story of the relationship between Gypsy Blanchard and her mother Dee Dee. Gypsy and everyone around her believed she was ill for years, but she eventually discovered that her overprotective mother had been lying the entire time. The Act follows the true events (with some fictional flair) that ultimately resulted in the murder of Dee Dee and the imprisonment of Gypsy.

    Starring: Patricia Arquette as Dee Dee Blanchard, Joey King as Gypsy Blanchard.

    Where to watch: Starz (UK) Hulu (USA)

    13. Dark Angel


    Not to be confused with the drama starring Jessica Alba, Dark Angel tells the story of Mary Ann Cotton – the woman widely known as Britain’s first female serial killer. Set in Victorian times, we’re given a fascinating insight into the life of Cotton, who was convicted of murdering three of her husbands.

    Starring: Joanne Froggatt as Mary Ann Cotton, Alun Armstrong as George Stott, Penny Layden as Margaret Stott.

    Where to watch: Prime Video

    The Serpent is on BBC iPlayer in the UK, and on Netflix internationally outside of the UK.

    What's the best true crime dramatisation you've seen? Tell us in the comments!