Who Killed Jill Dando? Questions surrounding the new Netflix docuseries

26 September 2023, 16:18

Who Killed Jill Dando? is released on Netflix this week
Who Killed Jill Dando? is released on Netflix this week. Picture: Netflix

By Jenny Mensah

The Netflix documentary series about murder of the British broadcaster is the released this week. Get the main theories and questions surrounding the case.

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Jill Dando was one of the most-beloved broadcasters of the '90s and her shocking murder rocked audiences across Britain.

Now 24 years on from her tragic and untimely death, the subject of the broadcaster's murder is being revisited for a new Netflix documentary.

The three-part series, entitled Who Killed Jill Dando?, will be released on Netflix this Tuesday 26th September, but what are the main questions surrounding the case and why is it still unsolved? Find out more below.

Jill Dando in 1996
Jill Dando in 1996. Picture: Colin Davey/Getty Images/Getty

Who was Jill Dando?

Jill Wendy Dando was an English journalist television presenter and newsreader, best known for her work at the BBC on the Six O'Clock News, Holiday and for co-presenting Crimewatch with Nick Ross. Crimewatch went on to reconstruct her murder in an attempt to aid the police in the search for her killer. In 1997, Dando was crowned BBC Television Personality of the Year. Born on 9th November 1961 in Western Super Mare, Somerset, Dando was daughter to Jack Dando and Winifred Mary Jean Dando. She had one brother, Nigel Dando, who was also a journalist.

How old was Jill Dando when she died?

Jill Dando was 37 years old when she was shot dead with a single bullet to the head on her front of her doorstep at 11.30am on 29 Gowan Avenue in Fulham, London on 26th April 1999. She was found 15 minutes later by a passer by.

Watch the trailer for Who Killed Jill Dando?

Who was Barry George?

Barry Michael George was born in West London on 15th April 1960. He attended a school for children with behavioural and educational issues and left by the age of 15 with no qualifications. On 2nd July 2001, he was found guilty of Jill Dando's murder by a majority of 10-1 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Barry George spent eight years in prison for her murder, but his conviction was later quashed in 2008.

Why was Barry George accused of Jill Dando's murder?

Jill Dando's death sparked a huge investigation and her unsolved murder became one of Britain's biggest police investigations in of all time with over 1,000 statements taken and a £250,000 reward issued. A full year after the crime, police turned their attention to Barry George, who lived around half a mile from Dando's home. A day after Dando was slain, the police received an anonymous call about a "mentally unstable man" and as a result, police looked into Barry George, who was known as Barry Bulsara. A photo of George wearing a gas mask, a leather jacket and holding a black-firing gun, raised police suspicions at the time, alongside his history of stalking women and sexual offences at the time. The photo was found in his flat among thousands of images of women he'd stalked in West London. After officers found a single grain of gunshot residue in his coat pocket, they were able to build a case against him.

George loses jail compensation bid in 2013
George loses jail compensation bid in 2013. Picture: Alamy

Where is Barry George now?

In 2008, Barry George was able to secure a retrial and was acquitted by a jury. The decision was unanimous, but George lost all his bids at compensation for the eight years he spent in prison. He argued that he suffered a miscarriage of justice, but he was deemed not 'innocent enough' to be granted a pay out, In 2010, Barry George left the UK for a new life in the Republic of Ireland after he felt his life was at risk. He told Netflix: "It makes me angry that they have taken eight years of my life".

Was Jill Dando married?

No. Jill Dando was not married at the time of her murder, but she did have a number of notabe relationships. From 1989 - 1996, she dated BBC executive Bob Wheaton and then had a brief relationship with Simon Basil, a national park warden. In December 1997, she met surgeon-gynaecologist Alan Farthing (who went on to be Queen Elizabeth II's personal physician) on a blind date which was set up by a mutual friend. He was separated from his wife at the time, but a few months after his divorce was finalised, Dando and Farthing had announced their engagement on 31st January 1999. Their wedding was set for September the same year. Alan Farthing later went on to marry a junior doctor Janet Stowell in 2008.

What are the main theories surrounding who killed Jill Dando?

  • A mystery lover or stalker - It was theorised that Dando - who was engaged to be married to gynaecologist Alan Farthing at the time - had an unknown jealous lover. It was also thought that she may have been killed by a crazed stalker or an obsessive fan.

  • A Serbian hitman - 48 hours after Dando was killed, tabloids shared the theory that the presenter was killed by a hitman. On 6th April 1999, Dando had presented a Kosovo Crisis Appeal that raised over £1million in support of those fleeing the Balkans. NATO had already begun their involvement in the Kosovo War and days before Dando's murder, British and US warplans had bombed the Radio Television Serbia building. Due to the precision of the one shot and the fact it was done in brought daylight - it was theorised that Dando's death could have been in response to this. A day after Dando's death, it emerfed that Tony Hall - then BBC's Head of News - received a death threat which threatened him and appeared to take accountability for Dando's assassination.

  • A London hitman - Another theory hypothesised Dando was killed under the orders of an underworld boss as warning to those trying to take on organised crime. Two men from North London were named as in a report, which later was deemed inconclusive.

  • Mistaken identity - It was theroised that Jill was mistaken for someone else, but this was soon judged as unlikely, given that the attack happened on her own doorstep.

Was Jill Dando investigating Jimmy Savile?

Following the events of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal, it was claimed that Dando investigated a paedophile ring at the BBC and had evidence which led her murder. However, the BBC said it had seen no evidence to support the claim.

Watch Who Killed Jill Dando? on Netflix on Tuesday 26th September 2023.