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Page last updated at 12:53 GMT, Wednesday, 15 September 2010 13:53 UK
Film telling Yorkshire Ripper's story shown in Bradford
Peter Sutcliffe
Peter Sutcliffe murdered 13 women between 1975 and 1980

An advance screening of a new film focusing on the life of Peter Sutcliffe is to be shown in Bradford.

The film, Peter: Portrait of a Serial Killer, is said to reveal previously unknown secrets about the killer.

It depicts the story of Sutcliffe's life, including the vicious murders he committed in and around West Yorkshire.

Skip Kite, the film's director, says: "I think people will be surprised it doesn't have the usual cliches of blood and gore, but the film is shocking."

Thirteen murders

Peter Sutcliffe, who became known as the Yorkshire Ripper, was convicted of murdering 13 women and attacking several others between 1975 and 1980.

Originally from Bingley, Sutcliffe carried out his reign of terror across West Yorkshire and Manchester.

He has spent 30 years behind bars, first at Parkhurst and latterly at Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital.

Peter: Portrait of a Serial Killer is the first dramatisation of Sutcliffe's life and follows him from childhood to his arrest, trial and imprisonment.

Skip Kite says he felt it was time Sutcliffe's story was told.

He explains: "There hasn't been a feature film made about Peter Sutcliffe before.

"He has never given interviews for radio or television. He is a mystery. He is an enigma."

Infamous killer

However, Skip says the film is much more than a depiction of the attacks and murders Sutcliffe committed.

He believes it gives a psychological insight into the UK's most infamous serial killer.

He says: "It is about the man. It is about his mind, where he came from, and how such a man developed.

There are real people out there today whose lives have been devastated by his actions. I do feel a weight of responsibility."
Walt Kissack, actor playing Peter Sutcliffe

"It reveals previously unknown facts about the Yorkshire Ripper and it does deal deeply with his childhood and background.

"It tries to provide some indication as to what may have happened to have created, dare I say, a monster like him."

Test screening

Skip says that two years of research were carried out before the film's script was finally written, with his team sifting through newspaper articles and TV footage and carrying out interviews with police officers, psychiatrists and other experts.

Peter: Portrait of a Serial Killer is being shown at the National Media Museum in Bradford as a test screening and questionnaires will be handed out to the invited audience before and after the performance.

Skip says: "We spoke to people in Bradford who had helped with the research and they said if we did the test screenings in London that wouldn't be fair.

"People in Bradford have a right to see this film at this stage when they can influence its direction."

Difficult role

Thirty-two-year-old Sheffield actor Walt Kissack plays Peter Sutcliffe in the film.

He says it was obviously a difficult role to play, not least because the film is dealing in real events.

He explains: "This is not a character. It's not fictional or made-up. It's a real person who is still still alive.

"There are real people out there today whose lives have been devastated by his actions.

"I do feel a weight of responsibility."

Walt says that he has always been aware of events surrounding the Yorkshire Ripper and wanted to make sure he properly researched the part to ensure its accuracy.

He says: "I went up to Bingley, Leeds and Bradford and I met certain people who knew of him and had stories to tell about him.

"I met a couple of policemen who were working at the time.

"It was all to get a real sense of the atmosphere and to try and understand a little bit more about the man."

Sensitive timing

Actor Walt Kissack
Sheffield actor Walt Kissack plays the role of Sutcliffe in the new film

But, in a year in which Bradford has again been the focus of worldwide attention as a result of a series of murders involving sex workers, is it really the right time for this film to be shown in the city?

Walt says he understands that the timing is sensitive, but believes the film should be seen in West Yorkshire.

He says: "Richard McCann, the son of Wilma McCann [the Ripper's first victim], has lent his support to the film. The film actually starts with a quote from Richard.

"I can understand that there are people out there who feel no airtime should be given to Peter Sutcliffe whatsoever.

"But these events were very important to people, especially in this area at that time, so I feel there will be a lot of people interested in seeing the film."

The final editing and release of Peter: Portrait of a Serial Killer coincides with two significant dates.

October 2010 sees an appeal by Sutcliffe against a High Court ruling that he should never be released from prison and January 2011 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Sutcliffe's arrest.




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