Review: The reality is more dramatic than fiction in the new series of 24 Hours in Police Custody

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Line of Duty has a lot to answer for. Watching that, you’d think police interviews were tense, highly-strung affairs, with long, meaningful pauses, followed by dramatic revelations, and possibly even a shoot-out.

Watching 24 Hours in Police Custody (Channel 4, Mon/Tues, 9pm), however, and you realise the truth is far less exciting, but no less dramatic.

This first two-parter of a new series followed the case of Victoria Breeden, a Cambridgeshire woman who had been caught on tape – well, phone voice recorder – plotting to murder her ex-partner.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At first, the officers investigating the case were unsure whether the recording was enough evidence, yet as the investigation progressed – checking Breeden’s history, her other ex-partners, her criminal record – they soon saw a pattern.

Victoria Breeden is questioned in 24 Hours in Police CustodyVictoria Breeden is questioned in 24 Hours in Police Custody
Victoria Breeden is questioned in 24 Hours in Police Custody

Without the need for undercover officers, firearms or unnecessarily complicated three-letter abbreviations, the detectives compiled a huge dossier of evidence against Breeden.

The subtitle to the programme, ‘Black Widow’, was a little on the histrionic side, but this was an absorbing documentary which shone a light on just how painstakingly detectives put together a case.

All of this in the face of a suspect who tried to manipulate and hoodwink her interrogators with tales of abuse, illness and pain – “It provides her a way to control the situation,” says her ex-husband.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Interviews with her victims – who were all, incredibly, compassionate towards Breeden – added a telling layer of emotion to what could have been cold and aloof, and made you realise that real life is always stranger than fiction.

Best programme by miles this week has been Winter Walks (BBC4, Mon-Fri, 7pm), as well-known faces take a fancy camera and themselves for a walk in the country. Tranquil, beautiful and much-needed.

The Great (Channel 4, Sunday, 9pm) was a colourful, highly-fictionalised account of the early days of Catherine the Great, and was ribald, ridiculous and laugh-out-loud funny. A hoot.

Support us and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.