First Cut – My Dad the Serial Killer Review

January 29, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

First Cut – My Dad the Serial Killer, Channel 4, Friday 30th Jan, 7:35pm Alert Me

Documentaries tend to live or die on their subjects. You can have three whole hours dedicated to Killer Guatemalan Ferret Hunters, but if they have the personality of a Hobnob, it’s just not likely to make good television.

And this is, bizarrely, where My Dad the Serial Killer both falls down and partially wins you over.

Matt Rudge’s documentary examines the deeply personal fallout from the Levi Bellfield ‘hammer’ murders that rocked London during 2005. By focusing on his unsuspecting family, Rudge is able to explore the after-effects of a lesser-heard victim in these terrible tragedies.

The documentary follows Bellfield’s eldest daughter Bobbi-Louise as she approaches her 18th birthday and begins to peek into the prejudice and social exile that comes hand in hand with a father who has been sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.

Except, the thing is, there’s not really that many noticeably traumatic, long-lasting downsides. I’m not saying it’s an experience everyone should give a whirl, but Bobbi-Louise is an exceptionally grounded, well adjusted and sensible girl who seems to have taken the whole thing as well as anyone could ever be expected to. Her interactions with friends and family are warm, unguarded and generally reflect the life of any other fatherless young woman.

There are tales of how her siblings have been bullied at school, but there is no direct interaction with them about the case and furthermore, no burdensome monologues about how shockingly Bobbi-Louise’s life has changed since the incidents.

It’s when the focus shifts onto Bellfield’s ex-wife that viewers start to gain a mild introspective into what life was like living with an increasingly aggressive-passive psychotic. Hearing her talk about her experiences is undeniably shocking, but once again, you get a sense that this is an incredibly self-aware woman who was sensible enough to get out when things turned truly nasty and whose largest current problem is suffering the occasional slings and arrows of Bellfield’s stubbornly resilient family.

This isn’t to belittle the trauma and pain that all included must have experienced, it’s just not captivating enough content to really drag you in.

When the most unsettling thing in a show about a Serial Killer is the karaoke singing at the end, its clear things may have veered slightly off course. But when the final destination is just as entertaining, maybe that’s a good thing.

By Matt Risley

cb says:

I am fully aware of levi and his antics, the rest of his partners and children have shown nothing but respect for the young ladies that have lost their lives, this girl probably had no more than a glimmer of this man as did the rest of his children, so just because she is now older she can make money out of it, slightly screams her fathers daughter?

Monica Gray says:

I understand how this young lady feels. My father was a “Serial Killer.” I witness my father murder someone at a young age. I am a published author my next book coming up is titled. “A Daughter’s Broken Memory.” “Living In The Realm Of A Serial Killer.” For me I feel separated from everyone else. During my life new introductions began with new faces in my life. The topic “Where is your father.” always came up. Changing the subject never helped it only prolonged the questions from re-surfacing. I would keep it simple by stating my father was serving a life time sentence for murder, however I never went into details. by that statment given by me you must know I had no friends thereafter. I waited until twenty-years later to tell the only friend I ever had the truth about my father. She was stunded. However after a twenty-year friendship it did not make much of a difference in our friendship. I finally went to visit my father in jail after twenty-three years later. It was devasting for me. Being face-to-face with this brutal murderer was horrific for me. I could only look him in the eyes once before the panic attacks began. Thereafter for the next few months I would wake up screaming from having nightmares of him. It is a difficult for a child to live with such memories of her father. Then not being able to relate to anyone else who has experienced the same thing. You must know for certain that how it can be a struggle after hearing so many say they are fasinated with the mormid mind of a serial killer. They turn the T.V on not understanding what it is like for the families of the victim and the siblings. Then shutting the tub off and going on about their lives. For me I cannot turn off the switch. I thought I would say this with anyone who has been in the same boat as me. Being I have not found anyone to relate too. I just wanted to state that you are not alone. We embrace it, we confront it, and we covercome it. Kind Regards Monie

Doug says:

People can be so judgmental and cruel. Singling these girls and their mum out to ridicule them for something their husband and father did is simply ignorant and outdated. It’s obvious they all love each other and support each other 100%. I get very short with people when they think it’s their duty to make someone else feel uncomfortable or when they make lynch mob comments about something they’re not even factually informed of. This family will forever carry the burden of what their dad did. Hopefully they will all be able to put it in its proper place and move on to better times. Hopefully people will support them instead of shunning them. It’s the right thing to do.

Dan says:

I admire this young lady telling how it is to be a daughter of serial killer who got 3 life sentences and I would of been interested to watch the program but sadly missed it. I feel so angry in any body who has done any crime and has remorse of what they have done to vitems and even their own family’s too I hope the father was watching this program to see how it is affecting their beautiful daughters life and how it has effected her also her other close family members also for the past 13 yrs and how her father has affected her daily life with the awful crimes he did and rightfully got justice for. I hope people wont be as narrow mind when they see this young girl in her own town and make tacky comments behind her back and oh that is the hammer murder’s daughter over there and just say it is bobbi I hope people in general won’t be as narrow minded as this afterwards