Skip to main content

Things we learned about Catch Me A Killer

Things we learned about Catch Me A Killer

We meet Charlotte Hope, star of this gripping true-crime series on Alibi, to find out all about the show and the fascinating woman who inspired it

By Chris Miller, Feature Writer

These days we’re used to seeing psychologists help solve crimes, both in real life and in fiction. But it’s a relatively new phenomenon. In 1994, when South African police were struggling to track down a serial killer, they sought a psychologist to build a profile of their suspect. The problem? There was no one in the country who did this.


Micki Pistorius was the first. A young academic at the University of Pretoria, she was assigned to the “Station Strangler” case in Western Cape to help catch a killer of young boys. Pistorius went on to found the South African Police Service’s Investigative Psych Unit and worked on numerous shocking cases. For writer Amy Jephta, whose mother was an officer in the unit where Pistorius was based for her first case, this groundbreaking woman was the perfect subject for a TV drama.


The result is Catch Me A Killer, a gripping, eye-opening and sometimes disturbing drama based on the real-life cases Pistorius investigated. There are elements of other great screen stories here: it’s a little bit Mindhunter (early days of profiling serial killers), a little bit Cracker (psychologist gets immersed in cases), a little bit The Silence Of The Lambs (brilliant female detective fights to prove herself). But its grounding in real, shocking murders, plus its South African setting, helps it to stand out.


So too does Charlotte Hope’s performance in the lead role, as the Game Of Thrones and The Spanish Princess star swaps corsets and crossbows for the sun-blasted, serious realism of Pistorius’s career in 1990s South Africa. Catch Me A Killer begins at 9pm on Tuesday 5 March on Alibi HD (CH 114). Here’s what we found out about the series when we chatted to its star.


Micki Pistorius is a fascinating person

It took more than just skills as a psychologist to succeed as a criminal profiler. As Hope says, “She’s just an incredible character, so complicated and brilliant, so smart and so intelligent, and goes on such a huge emotional journey.”


Pistorius found she had to immerse herself fully in the cases. “She says something in her book,” Hope says, consulting the memoir that Jephta and her co-writers adapted into the scripts. “‘Whenever I get a serial killer into my mind, I have to live in the abyss. My mood becomes dark.’ She takes it on completely.”


Early on we see Pistorius physically surrounding herself with the evidence and documents and books she needs to build a profile. “Just so that she can be as immersed in as many different ways as possible. Because it consumed her. It was all she thought about morning, day and night.”


Charlotte Hope revelled in creating the role

“You so rarely get parts where you get to go through the gamut of every human emotion and feeling as intensely as she does,” Hope says. “She constantly has this serial killer in her head imagining, why are they acting like this? What is it that’s created this behaviour? That takes a huge toll on her, but for me as an actor, it was fascinating. She’s such an amazing woman that I really wanted to do her justice.”


It was an education for Hope in more ways than one. “I’m a huge geek, and getting to go back and study psychology is one of the parts of being an actor that I love. I shamelessly love to study, so that aspect of it I found fascinating. I got to go back to Freud, who I don’t think I’ve studied since I was at university. It was really interesting.”


The cases still resonate today

Many of the crimes will be unfamiliar to UK audiences – making them all the more appalling. The series starts with Pistorius’s first case, the killer known as the Station Strangler, believed to have been responsible for the murders of more than 20 boys aged nine to 13 in Mitchell’s Plain.


“A lot of the crew who worked on the show had grown up around Mitchell’s Plain and the Station Strangler is their very present history,” Hope says. “It was only in the 90s, and a lot of them had been kids at that time. We had an on-set counsellor if it got too close with people, and there was definitely a sensitivity and an awareness that these were very real and very tragic events.”


It’s a showcase of South African talent

Other than Hope, few of the cast have been seen in productions outside South Africa and Catch Me A Killer should help bring these talents deserved international attention. Hope describes Kagiso Kuypers – who plays Norman Afzal Simons, the man unmasked as the Station Strangler – as “such a phenomenal actor and uncannily similar to Simons” and he’s not the only one to make an impression.


“Stewart Wilken [AKA the Boetie Boer, who killed at least 10 young women] was played by this amazing actor called Albert Pretorius. He was seemingly sweet and gentle but had committed these horrific, atrocious acts and to see the portrayal of it was just really creepy. That was the real joy of doing this show. Every two weeks, a new killer would come in, and I was flabbergasted by how talented these actors were. Like Charlie Eduardo [playing Moses Sithole, the ABC Murders killer] in episode 3… they blew my mind.”


There are surprising overlaps with Hope’s Game Of Thrones character

In Game Of Thrones, Hope played Myranda, an acolyte of the sadistic Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) who rejoiced in carrying out his cruel commands. ”When I did Game Of Thrones, everyone was like, oh man, you’re so evil and I hate you. And I was shocked because I was acting out of love,” Hope laughs. “I just loved Ramsay, and so I was going to do whatever it took in order to be with him.


“It’s why I found playing Micki fun, because her job is to empathise with these killers to understand why they’re acting the way they are in order to catch them quicker. It’s more of a ‘why done it’ than it is a whodunnit. Trying to understand why someone behaves the way they do. So… I was kind of doing Micki Pistorius in Game Of Thrones already, essentially!”


The commitment to 90s period detail is impressive

It’s not just the lack of iPads. The sets, especially the police stations with their boxy beige computers and piles of papers, look seriously authentic. “The attention to detail was amazing,” Hope says “It does look so 90s. The clothes are so 90s. The whole thing is so 90s. To me, it felt incredibly modern because I’ve spent so much time in corsets! I was like, ‘I love these clothes.’ Genuinely I have kept most of them and carry on wearing them. ”


When is Catch Me A Killer on TV?

Catch Me A Killer begins at 9pm on Tuesday 5 March on Alibi HD (CH 114), when all episodes will be available in On Demand.


You might also like

TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.

HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box, Virgin TV V6 box or Virgin TV 360 box connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.

Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.

On Demand: Content available to view depends on TV package. Time limits apply for viewing chargeable On Demand content – see Once purchased, all chargeable On Demand content must be viewed within 48 hours. Premium channels and upgrades must be kept for at least 30 days.

Image credit: Catch Me A Killer © 2022 Multichoice | MNET | Local Motion Pictures