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What Makes a Murderer

In this brand-new three-part documentary series, three convicted murderers submit themselves to a ground-breaking biological and psychological investigation to determine whether they had truly control over their actions or if a combination of hidden factors meant they were destined to kill.

It’s an investigation with huge implications for how we treat society’s ultimate offenders.  Scientists are now beginning to understand how certain biological traits, including those we may be born with, can influence behaviour and how our experiences can change our biology right down to DNA, to make an individual more likely to become involved in crime, violence and even murder. Their discoveries are set to revolutionise how society thinks about the fundamentals of crime and punishment.

In each episode of this pioneering series, a neuro-criminologist and a forensic psychologist will investigate the life, crimes, body and mind of one convicted murderer in unprecedented detail. By analysing their brains, genes and hormones, and through gripping psychological interviews, they’ll uncover a series of biological and psychological and social risk factors than when combined could have caused their aggressive, impulsive, immoral or risk-taking behaviour and put them on an inescapable path towards becoming a killer.

The series features pioneering neuro-criminologist Professor Adrian Raine, who has dedicated his 41-year career to analysing the bodies and brains of killers, looking for biological causes of crime and violence. He’s teaming up with and forensic psychologist Dr. Vicky Thakordas-Desai who has spent 20 years analysing the minds of inmates in Britain’s toughest prisons to understand how past experiences from abuse to neglect can shape future criminal behaviour.

Commissioning broadcasters
Channel 4
Year of production