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What’s your poison? Documentary aims to find out

Submitted by on February 8, 2012 – 11:38 amNo Comment

It started with a chance remark while eight of us were spending a weekend away on a canal boat. It could lead to a TV documentary that’ll be shown around the world.

As we sailed serenely through Staffordshire, one of our number advised us not to stop in Rugeley, the home of the Prince of Poisoners.

Back on dry land I discovered as much as I could about Dr William Palmer, also known as the Rugeley Poisoner, who was hanged in 1856 for murdering his friend John Parsons Cook. He was the first person to be convicted of murder using strychnine as a poison.

Palmer was also alleged to have bumped off his wife, drunken brother, mother-in-law and four of his children, although there’s no evidence to prove he was a serial killer.

The first person I contacted was Dave Lewis, author of the definitive biography about Palmer. For more than 30 years Dave has been researching Palmer’s life; there’s no one who knows more about the doctor than Dave.

Once he was on board, I got in touch with a former colleague, Sean Riley, who had recently left the BBC to join Beeston company MEDIAmaker. We’re now working together on ideas for a documentary – I’ll write the script and Sean will direct – which we’ll be pitching to several channels.

So how are we going about it? The plan is to film a four- or five-minute teaser which will be sent out in the hope that one of the channels will commission the documentary. We’ve already got a presenter lined up; we’ll be interviewing Dave Lewis and an expert on criminal law in the 19th century who’ll hopefully give a fascinating insight into William Palmer and how those close to him died in suspicious circumstances.

Watch for updates on this site and we’ll let you know when filming will be going ahead.

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