The true story behind ITV drama The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

Jason Watkins won a BAFTA for his portrayal as falsely accused Christopher Jefferies

Francesca Shillcock

ITV drama The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies not only received critical acclaim, including two BAFTA awards, but it further highlighted conversations and debates surrounding the reporting of criminal cases in the media.

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Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies

For those that missed the mini-series when it was first released in 2014, the channel are re-airing the two-part show this week. The award-winning drama starred W1A and The Crown actor Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies, a role for which he was awarded the BAFTA for Best Actor, along with other big names from the TV world. But what is the true story behind the programme? Here's all the details...

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What's the story behind The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies?

The drama tells the story of Christopher Jefferies and his wrongful arrest for the murder of his tenant, Joanna Yeates, in 2010. At the time, the murder dominated national newspaper coverage and the case then became one of Avon and Somerset Constabulary's largest police operations. The ITV series, however, focuses more on the fallout of Christopher's arrest and the media storm in which the retired teacher found himself when he was falsely accused of the crime. During the investigation into Christopher – from which he subsequently released without charge – many aspects of his personal life were written about and put on front pages.


Jason won a BAFTA for his portrayal

As a result, the coverage sparked numerous libel cases – with Christopher being awarded financial compensation for damages and a number of public apologies. Christopher himself worked with ITV and the writers of the show, giving his approval. However, the former teacher did admit he found it difficult on set watching the re-enactment. He told Radio Times in 2014: "I went to the set, which had my flat […] and the street outside recreated, and there were 13 takes. Because my arrest is done in the film exactly as it happened, I found it quite impossible to watch Jason in that scene."


Christopher won financial compensation in his libel case against the tabloid press

What happened to Joanna Yeates?

Joanna was a tenant of Christopher, who lived in the same building as him and worked as a landscape architect before she was brutally murdered in December 2010. In January 2011, Vincent Tabak, who was her next door neighbour, was arrested and charged with murder. After pleading guilty of manslaughter, he was eventually found guilty of murder and was sentenced in October 2011. He is currently serving a life sentence.

Who stars in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies?

Jason Watkins (W1A, The Crown, Line of Duty) plays the leading role as Christopher Jefferies. Starring alongside him are Shaun Parkes (Silent Witness, Lost in Space) as Paul Okebu, Ben Caplan (Call the Midwife) as Charles Chapman and Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland, Line of Duty) as Janine. Playing Joanna's killer, Vincent, is Broadchurch star Joe Sims.

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