Netflix’s new documentary into the murder of British broadcaster Jill Dando has just landed on the streaming platform, igniting speculation over who killed the TV star.
Experts and interviewees in the documentary refer to the presenter as “TV’s Diana,” comparing her to Diana, Princess of Wales and “the golden girl of British television,” saying that she was at the “top of her game” when she was murdered.
Dando was killed on April 26, 1999, shot dead outside her home in London in broad daylight. Her murder remains unsolved, and there are no suspects.
The documentary Who Killed Jill Dando? was released on Netflix yesterday (September 26) and has attracted much interest.
Over three episodes, the series looks at speculation that surfaced after Dando’s murder, with one interviewee saying in the documentary: “Everyone had a theory about who was responsible—criminal networks, Mafia, Russian, jilted lovers.”
Who Killed Jill Dando? interviewed experts and individuals close to Dando, including the senior investigating police officer at the time, Hamish Campbell, BBC broadcaster Jennie Bond, who broke the news at the time, Noel “Razor” Smith, a journalist for Inside Times and former criminal, and Nigel Dando, Jill’s brother.
Who was Jill Dando?
Dando hosted many TV shows in the U.K., including Crimewatch, a show that appealed to the public for help with unsolved crimes.
Her career started in print journalism as a trainee reporter for her local weekly newspaper, the Weston Mercury, where both her father and brother worked.
After five years, she began working for the BBC, becoming a newsreader for BBC Radio Devon in 1985.
She was 37 years old when she was murdered.
Her brother wants justice
Early in the documentary, her brother recalled when he heard the news of her death and that his immediate response was to “protect” his father.
Nigel Dando said: “I clicked into automatic mode and thought, ‘I need to protect my dad from this.’ I rushed down to Weston-super-Mare, he was obviously devastated.
“I was wondering how we were going to cope. It was a sense of emptiness and despair. I had to explain to my dad what had happened, what was going to happen, that we were going to be in the eye of a storm.”
As the documentary progressed, he expressed his hope that the culprit(s) would be caught one day.
Nigel Dando said: “I believe and hope that one day there will be an answer to it—when the police say they have enough evidence to nail Jill’s killer.”
Speaking to the Radio Times ahead of the documentary’s release, he commented: “It’s obviously a long shot now, because we’re 24 years on, but you just hope that a documentary like this might just jog somebody’s memory of what happened on or around the day that she was killed.
“They may just have that vital bit of evidence that would enable the police to pursue it, reopen the case, and, perhaps, make an arrest.”
With the case still unsolved, many theories were laid out in the true-crime series, with the first linking to the man that was originally arrested for the killing—Barry George.
Local fantasist George, who had a history of criminal convictions, was found guilty of Dando’s murder in 2001. However, the sentence was later thrown out, and he was acquitted after a retrial.
George was the first and only man put on trial for the murder. In a search of his flat at the time, a gun holster, a list of firearms, and news media coverage of Jill Dando were found. A particle of gunshot residue was also found inside one of his jacket pockets. The evidence was later dismissed.
In the documentary, George said: “I’d never met her in my life, didn’t know who she was. The police, over and over grilled me about it.”
George’s lawyer at the time Michael Mansfield KC said in the documentary: “The file should still be open. They should be looking.”
Journalist Smith believed it could have been a criminal hit.
He was held at HMP Belmarsh prison in London at the time of Dando’s murder. In the documentary, he said: “It takes a certain sort of person, a brutal, sophisticated psychopath to walk up behind a woman in broad daylight and point a gun into her head. I mean that is not something you do lightly.
“She was on Crimewatch and a lot of those criminals were in prison. It’s quite possible that it was one of them who did it. It looked like a professional job.”
He added: “I don’t really want to talk about that for my own safety, but there are rumors in the criminal world who done it, let’s put it that way.
“And it’s not who you would think, and it’s not Barry George. It was a professional hit.”
Another theory comes in the form of a Serbian hit man. Jill’s agent at the time, Jon Roseman, spoke out about menacing letters Dando was sent after presenting a Kosovo Crisis Appeal less than a month before her death. The event raised more than £1 million for refugees fleeing the Balkans.
Roseman said: “We had a lot of mail, but not usually threatening. Then we received a letter that mentioned the appeal she had given earlier that month for Kosovo. It seemed to be somewhat threatening.”
The BBC also received phone threats, with one from a Serbian claiming he had killed Dando. Police were unable to trace the call.
In the documentary DCI Campbell pointed out that, statistically, murder is often committed by someone close to the victim.
He said: “The reality is most people are killed by someone they know. The people in her inner circle were her fiancé, her former partner, who had been her partner for seven years, and her business agent. They had to be seen and interviewed and eliminated primarily by alibi.”
Thus fiancé, Alan Farthing, ex-partner and BBC editor Bob Wheaton, and Roseman were removed from the suspect list.