×
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

  • 'SNL' Turns the Impeachment Hearings into

    'Saturday Night Live' Turns the Impeachment Hearings into a Soap Opera (Watch)

    “Saturday Night Live” kicked off its Nov. 16 episode with a take on the biggest news story of the previous week (and foreseeable future): the impeachment hearings. But another big story of the week, especially in Hollywood, was how NBC’s last remaining daytime drama, “Days of our Lives,” had let its actors out of their [...]

  • Andy Cohen attends BravoCon's "Watch What

    'The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City' to Debut in 2020

    Bravo announced Saturday during its first annual BravoCon that a tenth “Real Housewives” series, “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” will debut in 2020. Bravo host and “Real Housewives” executive producer Andy Cohen made the announcement during a panel titled “Ask Andy” at the NYC convention. “We’ve always tried to choose a city that [...]

  • The Simpsons

    Disney Plus Will Make 'The Simpsons' Available in Original Uncropped Format in Early 2020

    Eep! After an outcry from “The Simpsons” aficionados, Disney has decided to offer classic episodes of the iconic animated sitcom on Disney Plus in their original 4-by-3 aspect ratio early next year. The streaming service launched Nov. 12 in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands with the full batch of “Simpsons” episodes in 16-by-9 HD [...]

  • Sterling K. Brown on His Oscar

    Sterling K. Brown on His Oscar Buzz for 'Waves': 'Kind of Surreal'

    Sterling K. Brown can’t quite comprehend the awards attention he’s receiving for his work in the A24 drama “Waves.” “If the Academy sees fit to put me in a category with people who I absolutely adore, I will pee all over myself, dude” the Emmy winner says on the latest episode of “The Big Ticket.” [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 45th Annual Humanitas

    TV News Roundup: 45th Annual Humanitas Nominees Announced

    In today’s TV news roundup, Humanitas has released the finalists for the 45th Annual Humanitas Prize, and YouTube announced a new beauty competition series hosted by James Charles.  CASTINGS Jason Kennedy has been named as the host of E!’s new series “In The Room.“ The “E! News” host will bring viewers inside celebrity homes for [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Viacom Extends 'The Office,' 'Parks and Recreation' Syndication Deals

    “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” reruns will continue to air on Viacom linear networks for the foreseeable future. The company announced that it has reached a new deal with NBCUniversal to keep “The Office” on Comedy Central through 2021. The series will then air in a non-exclusive window on Viacom Media Networks through 2025. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content