REVIEW Manhunt The Night Stalker (S2 E4/4)

So here we go then. In the midst of a gigantic surveillance operation, now was the time to see how DCI Colin Sutton and his team were going to catch this awful human, The Night Stalker, who had carried out burglaries and sexual assaults on older people – 99 per cent women – since the early 1990s.

By now, the whole of southeast London was in the grip of fear. Some survivors even reported living on the same street as a previous victim of his crimes years earlier. That previous incident scared them, and now their worst nightmare had come true.

In this respect, Manhunt The Night Stalker reminded me of those classic tales of American serial killers of who terrified whole neighbourhoods in the 1970s and 80s. Son Of Sam, the Golden State Killer (check out the late Michelle McNamara’s book and documentary series I’ll Be Gone In The Dark), these deranged men caused panic and paranoia. Minstead Man proved that the UK was not immune to such horrendous individuals.

However, and back to the drama, the way he was caught was slightly surprising. Throughout this series Sutton was being built up almost as a supercop, certainly by his peers. So even though it was following the real story closely, it still felt brave to remove Sutton from the moment Minstead Man was caught.

Sutton, so exhausted by his all-night shifts, was relieved of his duties and spent the night asleep. Until he got that phone call from Nathan at Central 3000. (Central 3000, I still can’t get over that name.)

When it all did kick off – a spotting of a grey Vauxhall Safira, initially partially obscured by another car so they couldn’t be completely sure; a coordinated following of the driver who had emerged from the same street where a tell-tale burglary had been reported; and leaving it until they were outside the surveillance jurisdiction as not to blow their cover – it was thrilling. Quietly, creepingly thrilling.

Delroy Grant.

A man who was worried about his wife, who he cared for at home. A chatty, polite, affable man. A man who seemed to know the game was up but when he let his guard down revealed a sneering malevolence. And a man, crucially, who provided a DNA match.

What was interesting about this final episode was that it followed conventional crime drama structures (the chase, the tension etc) but still managed to retain an authentic, non-sensationalist feel. The fact that Sutton was not – and didn’t need to be – present when Grant was caught flew in the face of the traditional ‘hero cop’ trope.

What was also clever was the way Sutton’s encroaching retirement brought with it examinations of purpose, mortality and everything we think about as we get older. And mostly vulnerability. This vulnerability provided a link to the vulnerability of Grant’s retired elderly victims.

But really, Sutton and Ed Whitmore did an excellent job of both being true and respectful to those caught up in Grant’s heinous web of terror, and giving us procedural – and fascinating – thrills and spills.

Paul Hirons


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.





REVIEW Manhunt The Night Stalker (S2 E3/4)

So far, Manhunt The Night Stalker has been a considered – and considerate – adaptation of a true-crime case. One of the things it has got very right is the balance between empathy and sympathy for the survivors and the usual conventions of the genre.

It has taken great pains to showcase the effects of sexual abuse on the poor women who have been subjected to such terrifying experiences, which is laudable both in terms of respect for survivors, but also from a viewing point of view. It’s a nonsense that so many crime dramas side-step any involvement or portrayal of the survivors. Adding these elements only serves to heighten the story, in my opinion.

Anyway, we left DCI Colin Sutton – or SIO now – preparing to ask for the budget in order to wage an aggressive surveillance operation in one final push to capture the felon. Thinking he had a bit of time to play with, but after a visit to another of The Night Stalker’s victims in hospital (a frail, old woman who eventually died – it was very moving and heartbreaking) he received a call saying that the Force Tasking Group had a slot… in around an hour’s time.

He rushed over having only scribbled down a few notes and, instead, spoke from the heart. It worked and he was given the green light.

This meant the team was now working with more people power and crack surveillance teams, all from a high-tech surveillance nerve centre that could oversee everything, from CCTV cameras to radio to everything. It was called Central 3000, which was just about perfect.

This was all fair enough, it almost worked on the very first night, but alas, The Night Stalker once again got away. But this episode will be remembered for what happened on the second night.

An elderly woman realised someone was breaking into her house and was creeping up the stairs. Sure enough we saw Minstead Man in the shadows, carefully and quietly taking out the light bulbs.

What a hideous, terrifying thing this must have been. The very stuff of nightmares.

That a frail old lady – alone in her house – should have to go through such an ordeal was just heinous.

He got away again, and weeks past, the team beginning to flag and feel the grinding tiredness of 18-hours days and all-night stakeouts.

But you know this was the calm before the storm. It’s only a matter of time until they catch this awful human.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 4 out of 5.