To paraphrase Andy Warhol "everyone will get their fifteen minutes of fame", and in today's media saturated society the easiest way to do that is by appearing on television, whether as a game-show contestant, a vox-pops soundbite on the News or as a brainless monkey in a reality TV series. Unfortunately some people get two big bites of the fame cherry, firstly as a blink-and-you'll-miss-me nobody hoping to cash in any ounce of self respect for £250 and a cuddly toy, and secondly, as a serial killer.
What follows is footage of infamous serial killers - before they were famous - who appeared, just like a regular Joe Public, on our nations favourite TV shows, such as BBC's Masterchef, ITV's Bullseye, Panorama, the news and even American's own matchmaker show - The Dating Game.
John William Cooper - "The Bullseye Killer": Having burned alive siblings Richard & Helen Thomas at their Scoveston Park farmhouse on 22nd December 1985 in a bungled burglary, John William Cooper would later go on to tie-up, rob and brutally murder holiday-makers Peter & Gwenda Dixon by shooting them, in the face, at point blank range, with a shotgun, on the 29th June 1989. Barely one month before this horrific double-killing, he appeared on the ITV game-show Bullseye. Footage of his TV appearance is seen here.
Stephen Port: Between June 2014 and Sept 2015, chef Stephen Port "allegedly" (as the case is ongoing) drugged his male victims with lethal quantities of GHB, raped and dumped their bodies. He is currently on trial at The Old Bailey for the murders of Anthony Patrick Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor. During the same month that his first victim was discovered, Stephen Port appeared on BBC TV's Masterchef, where he helped JLS singer JB Gill and actress Emma Barton (Honey Mitchell in EastEnders)* make meatballs. The footage has been removed from youtube, but stills can be seen here.
Rodney Alcala: Dubbed "The Dating Game Killer", Rodney Alcala is a convicted serial killer, kidnapper and rapist who is currently awaiting execution on Death Row (San Quentin, California) for the rape and murder of 7 women, although it has been speculated that he may have murdered as many as 50 women. Therefore it's shocking to see that in 1978 - in the midst of his killing spree, having already been convicted of rape and registered as a sex offender - Rodney Alcala appeared as a contestant on the US TV show The Dating Game (like Blind Date). Even more shockingly he won the episode and his prize was to go on a date with contestant Cheryl Bradshaw, but - lucky for her - she refused to go on a date with him as she found him "too creepy". See the actual The Dating Game footage here.
Ian Huntley - "The Soham Murderer": In the following two weeks after the disappearance of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman on 4th August 2002, Ian Kevin Huntley, a 29 year old caretaker of Soham Village College appeared on Sky News and Look East, expressing shock and concern at their vanishing. And yet, appearing to proactively assist the Police with their search, he had in-fact murdered the two friends in his home, barely yards from where he was filmed - as seen here. Their bodies were found on 17th August 2002, he'd dumped them in a ditch near a perimeter fence at RAF Lakenheath (Suffolk). Huntley was sentenced to two life terms, with a minimum sentence of 40 years in prison.
Of course, these aren't the only "killers" who have appeared on TV. There are loads of famous people (many still working in film & TV today) who have either murdered, killed, or caused the death of someone, as seen in my blog - Famous Celebrities Who Have Killed.
* don't worry, I haven't heard of JB GIll or Emma Barton either.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 18 murderers, 3 serial killers, across 21 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime historian, writer and tour guide of Murder Mile Walks.