Four Lives reactions

Reactions to the BBC drama Four Lives prove people won’t stay silent on police failings

The new true crime drama has been described as ‘damning’ in its portrayal of the Met Police

Four Lives, the new BBC drama based on the serial murders of ‘Grindr Killer’ Stephen Port, has finally aired this week – and its premiere has been a long time coming. First filmed in 2019, the three part drama faced numerous delays across 2020 and 2021 due to an ongoing inquest into the police mishandling of the investigations into the deaths of the four men who died at the hand of Stephen Port. Starring a stone-cold, chilling Stephen Merchant as Port and Sheridan Smith as Sarah Sak, the mother of Port’s first victim Anthony Walgate – Four Lives is a gruelling and unsettling watch that The Guardian correctly branded “truly damning TV about those who are meant to protect and serve.” The first two Four Lives episodes have aired on BBC One, and the reactions and reviews are in.

As horrific as Port’s crimes were, it is the disgraceful policing and injustice from the Met Police that makes watching Four Lives so anger inducing. As the drama shows, Port isn’t particularly clever or careful with his crimes and with better and more thorough policing he should have been charged after the death of his first victim. Instead, as the inquest that ended last month concluded, the Met’s failings directly contributed to the deaths of Port’s final three victims. The reviews and reactions to Four Lives are in, and they prove that nobody is prepared to tolerate police failings anymore.

‘The Met could and should have prevented further deaths’

Make no mistake, as important as Four Lives is, it is an extremely tough watch. Many viewers, myself included, tweeted their angry reactions over the Met Police’s handlings at the heart of Four Lives and the case. Most infuriatingly, a graphic that comes up at the end of the show tells viewers that none of the police officers who worked on the case have ever faced disciplinary action and that five of them have been promoted.

Many, including family members of Stephen Port’s victims, believe that there was institutionalised homophobia in the force that played a factor in the sloppy policing that occurred, and lead to the police not investigating the clearly suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths and Port’s inconsistent story and lies.

As the above tweet states, watching Four Lives you feel somewhat incredulous that these are very recent crimes, with Port committing the murders in 2014-2015 and then sentenced at the end of 2016.

‘It’s a mentally straining watch’

Many people have found Four Lives a truly hard watch – Port’s killings and modus operandi ring too close to home for a lot of LGBTQ viewers. The angry reactions to Four Lives are important, but also potentially a bit overwhelming to incense yourself when the promotions of the police still feel like such an injustice.

It’s important to say that if you feel like Four Lives is too tough of a watch then that’s valid – protect your own mental health when it comes to themes this serious. The Tab spoke to London Friend’s Matt Horwood, an organisation that promotes health and wellbeing for LGBTQ people through group and individual support and run an LGBTQ drug and alcohol project, about why he is choosing not to watch:

“Institutional homophobia at The Met is to blame for the catastrophic handling of the Stephen Port case, and if it wasn’t for this then lives could have been saved. The fact that numerous officers involved have since been promoted is an even bigger slap in the face to any individual or community that has been impacted by institutional discrimination in the force. While the recent jury inquest ruling agreed that ‘police ineptitude’ contributed to these murders, this doesn’t bring those men back and it doesn’t fix a system that is not fit-for-purpose to protect minorities.

“I chose not to watch Four Lives because it felt too close and too recent to home. It’s so important that more people know about how mismanaged this case was and why. But for the many of us who know people or who have ourselves experienced police ineptitude and discrimination firsthand, it’s not necessarily the first thing we all want to sit down and be so sourly reminded of.”

All three episodes of Four Lives are available to watch on BBC iPlayer here

Featured image courtesy of BBC.

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