Can Netflix's Jill Dando documentary finally bring answers to unsolved case?
On the morning of April 26 1999, Jill Dando was shot dead on her doorstep, sparking the biggest murder inquiry since the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.
The Crimewatch presenter was one of the most popular stars in the country, her star power still soaring, when a killer still at large crept up behind her and gunned her down outside her Fulham home.
While a man, Barry George, was convicted and imprisoned for her murder soon after, he was acquitted following an appeal and retrial eight years later.
Over 24 years later, the case remains open and there have been no developments in over a decade.
Theories have been swirling for years as to what might have happened to Dando, who might have targeted her and why. Now these questions are at the centre of the newly released Netflix documentary, Who Killed Jill Dando?.
Taking the time to present a portrait of the woman, and not simply focus on the manner in which she died, Dando’s rise from ‘humble beginnings’ to the ‘nation’s sweetheart’ is explored in great detail, a welcome addition to remind viewers of the woman she was.
Her talents as a journalist are recalled by former colleagues, many of whom also share that she maintained her ‘gentle, kind and well-meaning’ demeanor while actively fighting back against the sexism she encountered in the media industry at the time.
But with no new information when it comes to the titular question that drives the series, just what can it achieve?
When the case was first being investigated, police had several lines of inquiries they followed to try and determine who would shoot a woman in the back of the head at close range in an affluent part of the capital, and why.
While her fiancé and a former partner were questioned, they were ruled out as suspects, with attention then turning to the possibility that the media personality may have been killed by a stalker or crazed fan.
Others speculated that it could have been a case of mistaken identity, while some theories went so far as to suggest an assassin could have been hired as revenge for Dando’s work on Crimewatch.
There was also talk that Bosnian-Serb or Yugoslav groups had retaliated for NATO actions against media outlets and her appeals for aid during the Yugoslav Wars.
These theories are all outlined in the documentary, which starts by charting Dando’s life and career, speaking to her family, friends and colleagues before delving into the circumstances of her death.
It then re-tells the story of George; how he got caught up in the case, the evidence that initially led to his conviction and how he was eventually freed, details that he shares himself.
However, many people tuning in will likely know many of the details of the case, and probably won’t be met with any new or surprising information.
The most shocking point of the series comes in its final moments when one of the detectives originally assigned to the case asserts that he, and many other officers, believed they had the right guy all along, and suggests that releasing George was a mistake.
But the series still plays an important part in reminding viewers of the shocking reality that nearly a quarter of a century on, Dando’s murder has not been solved.
Journalist and Loose Women panelist Jane Moore rightly explains that it is utterly ‘mind-boggling’ there are still no answers after this many years have passed.
As Dando’s brother, Nigel Dando, has explained in recent months, there’s a chance this series could not only spark renewed interest in the case, but could lead to someone coming forward with information.
Thus, it is totally understandable that any sort of spotlight shone back on the case can only be positive, and hopefully help in taking another step forward in seeking justice.
Who Killed Jill Dando? is now streaming on Netflix.
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