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.