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Netflix UK recently dropped the critically acclaimed series The Fall in its entirety recently. All three seasons are now streaming on the platform with some people watching the show for the first time. While other fans are giving the show – which concluded on the BBC in 2016 – a re-watch.
Is The Fall based on a true story?
WARNING: This article contains spoilers from all seasons of The Fall
The Fall was created by Prime Suspect TV writer Allan Cubitt with the show following a serial killer who was murdering women in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
While the show is fictitious and the characters of Paul Spector (played by Jamie Dornan) and his nemesis and police detective Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) have been created by Cubitt, the writer did take inspiration from real-life.
Early on, viewers learnt Spector was committing heinous crimes in which he broke into women’s houses and strangled them – sometimes using tights as his murder weapon of choice.
He would then position his victims’ bodies in sexually provocative ways in his last act of sadistic depravity.
Spector was a social worker and an ordinary family man but underneath his everyday exterior lurked a dark figure.
The character of Spector had his origins in the chilling real-life American serial killer Dennis Rader – better known by his moniker BTK (Bind Torture Kill), which he grotesquely helped to coin in his communications with the press when he attempted to gain notoriety for his crimes.
Rader murdered 10 people over the course of 20 years between 1974 and 1991 in Wichita, Kansas.
He also strangled some of his victims as well as posing the corpses in bondage positions which he would photograph.
However, it wouldn’t be until 2005 Rader was arrested by the police after a floppy disk containing a message taunting the authorities was used to track him down.
Rader is now serving 10 consecutive life sentences for his crimes at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas.
BTK wasn’t the only one to serve as inspiration for Spector, Ed Kemper – also known as the Co-Ed Killer because most of his victims were college students – was another real-life mass murderer.
Kemper murdered his grandparents, his mother, one of his mother’s friends and six female hitchhikers between 1964 and 1973 in California.
Real life serial killer behind The Fall [EXPLAINER]
Mindhunter: Who is Ed Kemper, the Co-Ed Killer? [INSIGHT]
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He was finally arrested after he called the police to confess to his crimes when he realised the police weren’t looking for him following his mother’s killing.
Kemper is also doing time with multiple life sentences for his crimes.
Speaking about inspiration for Spector, Cubitt told The Sunday Times in 2013: “I liked the idea that both were living in medium-sized towns – about half a million – where you might have thought it would be easier to catch a serial murderer.”
He went on to say: “What intrigues me about some serial killers is that they often have an arrogance that they can get away with what they do.
“They also have grandiose ideas. Those who are not psychotic, like Spector and Rader, know the difference between right and wrong at one level.”
Both BTK and Kemper have appeared in TV shows in the past including Netflix’s Mindhunter which depicted some of the crimes committed by the two men.
One other real-life influence for Cubitt was British-born Canadian killer Russell Williams, who has been convicted for murder and sexual assault and is in prison.
Cubitt told The Sun previously, “Until his [Williams’] arrest, he had no previous convictions, but in fact he had a long career of breaking and entering and stealing underwear.
“Somehow that escalated to killing and he was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder, sexual assault and forcible confinement.
“His method was very close to that of Spector. I took it as an indication I was getting it right in some way.”
Additionally, while Cubitt may not have been influenced by killer Ted Bundy, who operated during a similar period to Kemper and BTK, there are evident parallels between he and Spector.
Both Bundy and Spector have a disarming charm but also arrogance about their crimes.
Also, more recently The Golden State Killer – Joseph James DeAngelo – also broke into homes to commit his murders as well as stealing trophies from his victims.
The Fall seasons 1 to 3 are streaming on Netflix now
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