The Controversial Hunt for Rachel Nickell’s Killer Is the Focus of a New True-Crime Series

Deceit Stan

If you’re up to date with Stan’s hit true-crime series Dr Death (and the accompanying docuseries) and are pondering what should be next on your watchlist, then mark your calendars for Saturday, August 14 for the next series to keep you on the edge of your seat. 

Deceit, starring Niamh Algar, tells the gripping story of the controversial honeytrap at the heart of the high-pressure investigation into the devastating murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992.

Twenty-three-year-old Nickell was walking with her two-year-old son on Wimbledon Common on July 15, 1992, when she was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death by a man, who was able to evade conviction for way too long. The initial police investigation into her murder resulted in the arrest in controversial circumstances of an innocent man, who was acquitted before her true killer was finally identified in a later police investigation and convicted in 2008.

Examining the complicated and toxic sexual politics of the early 90s and the police’s obsession with the wrong man, Deceit takes viewers into a dysfunctional world, where a female undercover officer, codename ‘Lizzie James’, was asked to become sexual bait for the suspected killer.

Credit: Stan

Over four parts, the true-crime drama examines how The Metropolitan police struggled to capture the man they were sure was guilty of Nickell’s death — Colin Stagg (Sion Daniel Young  Keeping Faith, The Left Behind). 

The media feed a national obsession, covering every detail of the case and demanding justice, while the police are determined to catch the man they believe is guilty before he kills again.

According to the synopsis, “In desperation, the relatively young Detective Inspector leading the case, Keith Pedder (Harry Treadaway—  The Crown, Star Trek: Picard), engages the nation’s most famous criminal profiler, Paul Britton (Eddie Marsan — Ray Donovan, Vice), to help devise a bold undercover operation which will see an attractive, young female officer start a relationship with Stagg.”

Credit: Stan

The true-crime series also delves into the misogyny of the times, as ‘Lizzie James’ (Niamh Algaris determined to rise through the ranks — despite the backlash against the feminist movement at the time. both ‘Lizzie’ and her friend and colleague Lucy (Rochenda Sandall — Line of Duty, Criminal: UK) both grapple with the weight of the prevalent ‘Lad Culture’ which seeks to put women “back in their place.”

Hugely ambitious, ‘Lizzie’ finds a way to stand out by becoming one of the very few female undercover officers deployed in covert operations, in a team that includes her sometime confidant Baz (Nathaniel Martello-White — I Hate Suzie, Collateral, Small Axe: Mangrove). But then she’s offered a central role in the biggest murder inquiry the country has ever seen.

Credit: Stan

Over the course of five months, ‘Lizzie’ attempted to obtain information from Stagg by feigning romantic interest, meeting him, speaking to him on the telephone and exchanging letters containing sexual fantasies. She tried to coerce a confession out of him but was unsuccessful and her tactics were deemed to have used “deceptive conduct of the grossest kind”, resulting in Stagg’s acquittal.

Deceit premieres Saturday, 14 August only on Stan.


Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.