WGBX 44 is getting set to premiere In Plain Sight, the BBC drama focusing on Scotland’s infamous serial killer: Peter Manuel. And while we’re not “fans” of serial killers, we are fascinated by the psychology around these societal horrors – perhaps just as much as the detective that pursues Manuel, one Sergeant William Muncie. While Muncie was not as well known in his time as Manuel was, In Plain Sight provides us with an in-depth look into both men, played by Douglas Henshall (Shetland) and Martin Compston (Masterpiece’s Victoria, Mary Queen of Scots), respectively.

But after watching the in-depth docu-drama, we had to ask – just what was the true story behind the saga of Manuel and Muncie? While we can’t confirm or deny all of the film's facts, we were able to find 10 fascinating facts about the men that make up this terrible tale.

Douglas Henshall as Sergeant Muncie
Douglas Henshall stars as Sergeant Muncie

1. Peter Manuel was born in New York City, living there until the age of five, when his Scottish parents moved the family back home.

2. Sergeant William Muncie pursued Manuel for 12 years, from Manuel’s early breaking and entering crimes through his final hanging.

3. Manuel was finally convicted of 7 murders – either shooting people as they slept or beating them to death – but it is believed he killed many more.

4. The leading expert on the case suspects conspiracy. Dr. Richard Goldberg of Aberdeen Univerity’s law school, claims authorities colluded to ensure Manuel was hanged, despite being diagnosed as a psychopath.

Martin Compson as Peter Manuel
Martin Compston starts as Peter Manuel

5. Manuel kept notebooks that he used to plan his court defense, which included a sketch of him burying one of his victims.

6. Manuel’s name in the press was “The Beast of Birkenshaw,” as he was considered the worst serial killer Scotland had ever seen.

7. He claimed to be innocent. In Manuel’s interviews with the police, he gave the police intricate details about the weapons and crimes, but told them it was because he had a conversation with the “real” murderer.

8. Special Deliveries? While Manuel never hand delivered correspondence to Sergeant Muncie’s house, he did frequently send birthday and Christmas cards to the detective.

9. Manuel’s final meal was fish, chips, tomatoes, tea and brandy.

10. The documents about his case have been sealed until 2033 – leading the public to believe they are unimaginably gruesome.

Watch In Plain Sight on Monday, February 11, 18 and 25 at 9 pm on WGBX 44 – then join us on Facebook and let us know what intrigues you about this case.

1, 2, 9: Smirking serial killer- and the detective who sent him to the gallows. Jane Warran. Express.
3 – 5: New Evidence in ‘Psychopath’ Case.BBC News.
6 – 7: Revealed: How serial killer dubbed The Beast of Birkenshaw was so desperate for notoriety he let slip incriminating facts to police – and his crimes inspired ANOTHER murderer 50 years later. Molly Rose Pike. Daily Mail Online.
8: Who was Peter Manuel? The real story of In Plain Sight’s notorious serial killer. Eleanor Bley Griffiths. Radio Times.
10: Why the gruesome murders and disputed sentence of serial killer Peter Manuel still fascinate us 60 years on. BBC Scotland.