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Phil Spector, Bernie Madoff, Rolf Harris and Caleb ‘Kai’ McGillvary’s stories will be captured in new true crime series this year (Picture: Netflix / PA / AP)
If you’ve raced through Dahmer, been shocked by Our Father, got the chills from Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story and sworn to avoid dating apps after The Tinder Swindler, it might be safe to assume you have a bit of an obsession with true crime.
The popularity of the genre is undeniable, with shows about the most shocking things to happen in the real world making for fascinating, and often uncomfortable, viewing.
But we just can’t seem to shake our morbid fascination with the worst of human behaviour, glaringly evident in the massive success of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, which is now the fourth most popular television series in the English language ever on Netflix, with 856.22 million hours of the series watched in the month after it was released in September 2022.
So as we head into a new year, just what are the shows that are set to grab our attention over 2023?
The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker
In 2013 hitchhiker Caleb ‘Kai’ McGillvary became a viral sensation after telling a Californian reporter in TV interview that he had used a hatchet to repeatedly hit a man that had caused a car crash and was then attempting to attack a young woman.
His phrase ‘smash, smash, smash’ was even turned into a song and watched over 11 million times on YouTube.
Seen as a ‘happy-go-lucky homeless’ guy, just three months later McGillvary was hitting the headlines again for a much darker reason- murder.
Although he claimed he was acting in self-defence when he beat a 73-year-old man to death, McGillvary was found guilty and sentenced to 57 years behind bars.
During his sentencing the judge called him a ‘powder keg of explosive rage’.
Streaming: January 10 on Netflix.
Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street
The mastermind of the largest Ponzi scheme in history Bernie Madoff was an American financier turned fraudster once considered a titan of Wall Street.
Although he was instrumental in the formation of NASDAQ and a well-respected figure, in 2008 he was arrested after it was uncovered he’d been running a decades-long fraud that was worth a staggering $64.8 billion (£53.75billion).
Money was stolen from more than 40,000 investors, including the New York Mets, Larry King, Kevin Bacon, hospitals, colleges and pension funds.
His deceit destroyed not only the lives of countless investors but his own family, with Madoff’s sons being the ones to turn him in after he confessed his crimes.
Now streaming on Netflix.
Tokyo Crime Squad: The Lucie Blackman Case
Lucie Blackman was killed while working in Japan in 2000 (Picture: AP)
British woman Lucie Blackman had been working as a hostess at a bar in Tokyo before she disappeared in July 2000.
Her family flew to Japan and started a public campaign to help find her, however just over six months later, her remains were found just outside the city.
The main suspect, a Korean-Japanese national Joji Obara, was arrested later that year and charged with drugging, raping and killing Blackman, as well as with the rape and manslaughter of Australian woman Carita Ridgway, and the rape of eight other women.
While he was jailed for life on the other charges in 2007, Obara was acquitted of Blackman’s rape and murder for lack of direct evidence.
Although he was eventually found guilty for the charges relating to Blackman, this series will explore how despite the ‘overwhelming amount of evidence of his shocking crimes, the judicial system of Japan almost failed Blackman and the many hundreds of victims of Obara’s crimes’.
Streaming: TBC on Netflix.
The producer of iconic rock hits like the Ronettes’ Be My Baby and the Beatles’ Let it Be, Phil Spector was widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in pop music history.
But in 2003 he found himself at the centre of a murder investigation after actress Lana Clarkson was shot while spending the night at his home.
While he immediately claimed it had been a suicide and he had no involvement, Spector was charged and was able to continue working on various music projects while out on bail.
But when he eventually made it to trial, Spector did all he could to mock his victim, helping to frame her as simply being a fame-hungry ‘B-grade actress’.
This four-part series investigates just what happened on that fateful night, speaking to figures including Spector’s daughter Nicole to try and understood more about a man who was labelled a musical genius, but then later became a total recluse and eventually a murderer.
It works to reframe the narrative that was missing at the time of the trial and give Clarkson more credit than she was afforded immediately following her death too.
Streaming: January 8 on NOW.
Untitled Bitfinex Hack documentary
Heather Morgan was arrested last year after being accused of laundering Bitcoin (Picture: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
When you have the team behind Tiger King and FYRE involved, you can guarantee this yet-to-be-titled project is going to be one wild ride.
As Netflix wrote when announcing the documentary just a week after the arrest of the couple at the centre of it all in February last year, the streaming service shared that the series would be about ‘a married couple’s alleged scheme to launder billions of dollars’ worth of stolen cryptocurrency in the biggest criminal financial crime case in history’.
The series will focus on Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan, a New York-based pair and their involvement in laundering the stolen funds.
One of the largest exchange breaches in Bitcoin history, the couple were accused of conspiring to launder around $4.5 billion (over £3.7 billion) in Bitcoin, liquidating their digital assets by creating false identities and online accounts and purchasing real gold, NFTs, and other assets.
Streaming: TBC on Netflix.
Rolf Harris: Hiding in Plain Sight
Rolf Harris’ crimes will be the focus of a new documentary on ITVX (Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images)
He was once considered a national treasure in both Britain and his home country of Australia, but Rolf Harris’ public profile helped shield him from dark secrets in his past for decades.
Harris led a toxic double life, molesting contributors and crew on the shows he worked on for years and started being investigated in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
In 2014 he was eventually convicted of the sexual assault of four underage girls, which effectively ended his career.
Now a decade on from his arrest, this film will speak directly to his accusers and tell how his assaults became ‘gradually more serious throughout his excelling television career’ in the 70s and 80s.
Streaming: TBC on ITVX.
Big Mäck: Gangsters and Gold
Donald Stellwag spent nearly a decade in jail for a crime despite having an alibi (Picture: Netflix)
All it took to convict Donald Stellwag of a crime he didn’t commit was being identified as ‘the fat one’.
In 1995 the German man was sent to prison, spending nine years locked up after being accused of a bank robbery in Nuremberg four years earlier.
An outsider who was bullied for years, Stellwag was a drug addict who was just getting his life back on track when he was mentioned in connection with the robbery on a TV show and a dubious expert later convinced a judge of his guilt, despite the fact he had an alibi.
Two weeks after his conviction was overturned nearly a decade later, the true perpetrator was caught.
But when €1.8 million in gold (£1.5 million) was stolen during a highway robbery soon after, he was again dragged into the case, with evidence mounting he may have actually been involved.
Streaming: January 20 on Netflix.