×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Controversial Documentary on British Child’s Disappearance to Debut on Netflix on Friday

New Netflix documentary series “The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann,” about a missing girl whose case has sparked fevered speculation in Britain for more than a decade, is set to drop on the streaming platform Friday. The eight-part series is controversial and anticipated in equal measure, with the girl’s family suggesting it could hinder the long-running police investigation and a tabloid saying there could be explosive new revelations.

Three-year-old British toddler Madeleine McCann went missing from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz while on vacation with her parents in 2007. Her disappearance sparked a huge investigation involving Portuguese police and Scotland Yard, which is still pursuing leads. It remains one of the highest-profile cases in modern U.K. crime history and the subject of intense media scrutiny, especially from Britain’s sensationalist tabloids.

The Netflix series promises new interviews with people connected to the case, with input from more than 40 contributors in all. The Pulse Films-produced documentary will also reconstruct events pertaining to Madeleine’s disappearance.

But it received no input from the McCann family, who said last week in a strongly worded statement that they knew the series was being made and were asked by Pulse Films to participate, but that they did not want to take part.

“We did not see and still do not see how this program will help the search for Madeleine and, particularly given there is an active police investigation, could potentially hinder it,” the McCanns said. “Consequently, o­­ur views and preferences are not reflected in the program.”

Netflix and Pulse have been tight-lipped over potential revelations in the series, but provided Variety with a list of interviewees. They include Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, the investigative journalists who co-wrote 2015’s “Looking for Madeleine”; Gonçalo Amaral, the investigating coordinator with the Policia Judiciaria in Portugal; Robert Murat, who was once considered a suspect in the case; Jim Gamble, former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in the U.K.; and Phil Hall, the McCanns’ former PR rep, Phil Hall.

Madeleine’s disappearance from her family’s vacation apartment, while her parents were out having dinner nearby, was manna to Britain’s aggressive and often ruthless tabloid press, which sent reporters to hound the McCanns and track the investigation. The Portuguese police have been accused of bungling the case by fixating on Madeleine’s parents as potential kidnappers or killers instead of conducting a thorough investigation.

“The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann” is the second controversial project in recent months about the high-profile disappearance or murder of a British toddler. The Oscar-nominated short film “Detainment,” about the brutal killing in 1993 of 2-year-old James Bulger by a pair of 10-year-old boys, sparked a public petition for it to be withdrawn from Oscar contention.

More TV

  • Mediapro Unveils The Mediapro Studio, With

    Spain's Mediapro Unveils New Studio, With 34 Series in Production (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Mediapro Group – the Barcelona-based multinational co-founded by Jaume Roures – is unveiling The Mediapro Studio, with 34 scripted series already in production worldwide. The new production company will be based in Fuencarral, northern Madrid, just a few miles from Netflix’s soon-to-open European production hub. It will be overseen by Javier Méndez as chief [...]

  • BBC Drama and Comedy Box Sets

    BBC Drama and Comedy Box Sets Coming to Sky, Now TV

    BBC Studios and Sky have joined forces to add a raft of catalogue comedy and drama from the pubcaster to the Sky platform and its Now TV streaming service. The deal kicks in next month and includes dramas “McMafia” and “Spooks” and classic BBC comedies “The Vicar of Dibley” and “Only Fools and Horses.” The [...]

  • Jim PackerPRESS PLAY: Variety Home Entertainment

    FilMart: Jim Packer Says Liongate Ready to Support Starz Global Rollout

    A keynote speaker at Hong Kong’s FilMart this week, Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s president of worldwide TV and digital distribution, shares plans to support Starz’ international expansion. And he recounts his experience of watching Netflix change up through the gears. Back in 2012, when Lionsgate was still casting “Orange is the New Black,” Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s [...]

  • Hong Kong's TVB Boosts OTT Plans,

    Hong Kong's TVB Boosts OTT Plans, Sets 'Court Lady'

    Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts is set to boost its OTT platforms locally and abroad with new packages and initiatives targeting the Southeast Asian market. The city’s biggest broadcaster has also renewed its partnership with China’s Huanyu Entertainment following the wild success the two enjoyed last year with palace drama “Story of Yanxi Palace.” The new [...]

  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

    Stephen Colbert Cancels 'Late Show' New Zealand Trip After Mosque Shootings

    “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” had been scheduled to make a surprise trip to New Zealand this week — but those plans have been put on hold in light of last Friday’s terrorist attack that left 50 people dead. On Monday’s show, Colbert revealed the now-shelved trip, which had been kept under wraps but [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Hollywood Agents, Writers Guild Make Little Progress in Talks

    Leaders of Hollywood agencies and the Writers Guild of America made little progress in Tuesday meeting to negotiate proposed rule revisions to how agents represent writers. The WGA said after the meeting — the fifth since Feb. 5 — that talks would resume later this week but did not give a specific day. “The Agencies [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER: L-R: Monster (T-Pain)

    New-Model Murdochs: Fox Corporation to Emerge Tuesday

    A new era for the Murdoch clan and the media business begins with the debut of Fox Corporation on Tuesday, a day before Disney completes its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The new-model Fox will begin trading Tuesday on the NASDAQ under the FOXA symbol. On Tuesday, 21st Century Fox will initiate a complex transfer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content