Busted! Experts explain reality of solving murders… and it’s light years away from storylines on gritty TV crime dramas
- Professor Dame Sue Black will debunk myths about forensics in crime dramas
- She will be joined in a lecture by experts to explain the reality of solving murders
- They reveal fingerprints are rarely used in court and ‘lineups just don’t happen’
- Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution will air on BBC4 and iPlayer
If a pathologist in a crime drama says a murder victim died at 2pm on Saturday, they might just be the killer.
So suggests a forensic expert who is set to debunk some of the common myths in crime shows and novels.
Fingerprints are also rarely used in court, suspect photofits are unreliable and police station line-ups just don’t happen any more, according to Professor Dame Sue Black.
The forensic anthropologist will be joined by experts to explain the reality of solving murders during this year’s Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution.
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Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure and Martin Compston are all said to be reprising their roles in the police drama for a three-part BBC special which could be broadcast as soon as Christmas next year.
An insider told The Sun: ‘Viewers weren’t satisfied with the ending of series six and were crying out for a more sensational conclusion — now [writer] Jed [Mercurio] can deliver that.’ The BBC was contacted for comment.
Dame Sue, 61, says a major flaw on television is experts confidently pronouncing the time at which someone died – which perhaps only the murderer could know with any precision.
If someone has died that day, it may be possible to give an estimate of the time of death based on the rate at which a person’s body heat changes from the usual human temperature of 37C (98.6F) to that of the environment they die in.
But Dame Sue, who has helped identify victims of the conflict in Kosovo and the 2004 tsunami, said: ‘Once temperature is no longer available to judge the time of death, experts rely on bloating, discolouration of the skin and the onset of rigor mortis.
‘Decomposition can depend on whether a buried body is close to the surface, where the temperature is higher… or whether human remains are close to shrubbery, which animals use for cover.
‘It is just not possible to say someone died at 25 minutes past two, as sometimes happens in crime dramas.’
The Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution, Secrets Of Forensic Science With Dame Sue Black, will be broadcast on BBC4 and iPlayer on December 26, 27 and 28 at 8pm.