Scenes from a Teenage Killing profiles every teenager murdered in the UK during 2009
Morgan Matthews' BBC documentary charts aftermath of young deaths
A couple of years back, the Beeb aired The Fallen, a funereal documentary which marked the deaths of every British soldier killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The screen was filled with names, ages and date of death, stopping every so often to focus on a particular victim’s story, through photos and words from their grieving loved ones. In tone and style, Scenes from a Teenage Killing (BBC4, Thu 27 Jan, 9pm) is almost identical, as it zeroes in on every teenager murdered in the UK during 2009. But the similarities are no coincidence given that both films were made by Morgan Matthews, the doc-maker also responsible for Quitters and My Crazy Parents.
As the tears on and off-screen flow, we hear of those killed on the streets from knives and guns, or in their homes, incinerated by cruel arsonists. All strive for justice, some of them able to dance with joy or slump with relief at the life sentences handed out to their child’s killer, others left to stare in bewilderment as the police continue in their efforts even to make an arrest. The danger of such a two-hour onslaught is that the viewer can become inured to the suffering. But then a traumatised parent comes on screen, whether it’s the mum who wears her dead son’s clothes every day or the dad who blots out his agony by being perpetually drunk, heading down to his local karaoke bar and losing himself in Elvis.
Scenes from a Teenage Killing (BBC4, Thu 27 Jan, 9pm)