Harold Shipman: Doctor Death (2002)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama  |  9 July 2002 (UK)
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Dramatisation of the true story of Harold Shipman, a GP (general practitioner, ie family doctor) from Hyde, Manchester, who was convicted in 2000 of murdering fifteen of his elderly ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Stainton ...
John Shaw
Olive Pendleton ...
Kathleen Grundy
Veda Warwick ...
May Clarke
Tony Melody ...
Len Fellows
Jacqueline Pilton ...
Primrose Shipman
Mary MacLeod ...
Ivy Lomas
Helen Donohue ...
Surgery Receptionist
Clare Kerrigan ...
Julie - Teenage Girl
Demelza Randall ...
Debbie Bambroffe
Irene Skillington ...
Bereaved Woman
Alan Massey
John Flanagan ...
Jim King
Deborah Norton ...
Debra King
Sushil Chudasama ...
Junior Doctor


Dramatisation of the true story of Harold Shipman, a GP (general practitioner, ie family doctor) from Hyde, Manchester, who was convicted in 2000 of murdering fifteen of his elderly patients and is suspected of murdering many more of them. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

9 July 2002 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Prescription for Murder  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


John Hurt was offered the title role but declined because he thought the project was distasteful. See more »

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User Reviews

Chilling stuff
9 July 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

STAR RATING:*****Unmissable****Very Good***Okay**You Could Go Out For A Meal Instead*Avoid At All Costs

This interesting and welcome TV drama/thriller charts the rise-and-fall of the titular Tameside GP,who is now regarded as quite possibly Britain's most excessive (and certainly most infamous) serial killer.Though only convicted of in-total murdering 15 (as if that weren't enough) of his elderly/middle-aged women patients,he is now suspected of murdering a great,great deal more,but due to the extreme amount of publicity the case has received,it is thought impossible to give him a fair trial.

The initial,most searing shock seems to come from those who knew and were patients of the 'good doctor',seemingly unable to believe or come to terms with how a man they put all their trust in could betray them in such an evil way.

James Bolam does a really good job of portraying Shipman.Before the murders ,he is seen as a kindly,well-to-do doctor,for whom doing regular home visits is seen as no skin off his nose whatsoever.But after the killings and as the investigation into them drags on,he develops a really more sinister side,callously informing relatives of deaths of their loved ones and being really difficult as he helps the police with their enquiries.James Hazeldine also does a really good turn as DI Stan Egerton,who's in charge of the investigation into Shipman.

The problem ,however,comes with the story.Hardly any insight is offered into possible reasons Shipman might have committed his evil crimes.For example,it's often been suggested seeing his mother die of cancer at the age of 17 might have played a huge part,but this is only mentioned in passing,rather than being delved into in any great detail ,say,maybe at the beginning.

Still,assumption's all it could be.This is a real-life story,and Shipman himself has never offered any explanations into his behaviour.This is not a standard TV murder mystery story,but a depiction of a real life event,and it should should be treated with more respect accordingly.***

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