Channel 4 has commissioned true crime, drama-documentary series “The Woman Who Fell To Earth” (wt) from Story Films.

The programme centres on the case of Victoria Cilliers who survived after her parachute malfunctioned leading to her husband being accused of her attempted murder.

The true crime, drama-documentary series from Story Films (The Interrogation of Tony Martin/The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe) weaves together documentary testimony with verbatim drama and moments that break the fourth wall, to take viewers inside an investigation to uncover the crimes of Emile Cilliers, a Physical Training Instructor in the British Army accused of trying to kill his wife, Victoria, in an elaborately calculated way.

The apparent “accident” that befell Victoria would set in motion an investigation by a pair of dogged detectives, DC Maddy Hennah and DI Paul Franklin who spent two years “pulling at the threads of his life, revealing affairs, debts, sex clubs, escorts, and murderous intent.”

But the case was entirely circumstantial. The detectives compiled an extensive collection of audio, visual and written evidence to build a compelling picture of a sociopathic narcissist who groomed and exploited everyone in his life. Then as the court case began, the insidious nature of Emile’s controlling behaviour was revealed, as Victoria turned against the police to side with her husband.

BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Guy King (Our Falklands War: A Frontline Story / Superkids: Breaking Away From Care) uses the extensive archive to create verbatim drama scenes with performances from actors including MyAnna Buring (The Responder/The Witcher), which are juxtaposed with new and exclusive interviews from Victoria and the investigating officers.

The result is an inventive and gripping series that tells every twist of the police investigation and the lies Emile told. Most importantly, it brings into sharp relief the horrendous and damaging power of coercive control and the extent of its reach. The loudest voice is given to the women in the story – those who experienced Emile’s controlling behaviour first hand, and the female police detective who spearheaded the case that eventually brought him down.

Alisa Pomeroy, Head of Documentaries said: “This is a spell-binding story that captured and shocked the nation. This series will attempt to address some important and thought-provoking questions that arose from this remarkable case. The mix of true-crime and drama-documentary and exclusive access to the investigating officers, will shed light on the complexities of abusive and coercive relationships and will no doubt educate and enthral our viewers.”

Adam Hopkins, Executive Producer, Story Films added: “Having survived such an audacious attempt on her life, Victoria had to confront the painful reality that her entire relationship had been based on lies. Director Guy King expertly handles the telling of this multi-layered story, getting beyond the shocking headlines of the case to explore the complexity of coercive control”

The series is commissioned by Alisa Pomeroy and Will Rowson for Channel 4. Guy King is Series Director; Elle Mower is Producer; Peter Beard and Adam Hopkins are Executive Producers for Story Films. The series will be distributed internationally by Fremantle.

Jon Creamer

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