The Long Shadow: Is Mike Dugdale Based on a Real Journalist?

The crime drama show, ‘The Long Shadow,’ delves into the morbid terror that overtook Yorkshire when the infamous serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe, a.k.a, Yorkshire Ripper, was active, leaving a trail of dead bodies behind him in the 1970s. The show follows the detectives at the local Police Station, under Dennis Hoban and later Jim Hobson’s command, as they investigate a number of murders with sex workers as the common targets. Alongside portraying a moving depiction of the victims and their families’ accounts, the show also analyzes the culture surrounding the investigation against the killer.

In doing so, Mike Dugdale is introduced into the narrative as the central member of the journalism industry who remains in constant contact with the Police force to share details about the crime with the public. However, within this dramatized show based on a true story, is there any relation between Mike Dugdale and a real-life journalist?

Mike Dugdale: The Real-Life Counterpart Behind The Fictitious Journalist

Where other characters from ‘The Long Shadow,’ such as Dennis Hoban, Jim Hobson, and Emily Jackson, among several others, retain their identities as direct adaptations of real-life individuals, the same isn’t entirely true for Mike Dugdale. As such, there isn’t a real-life individual by the name of Mike Dugdale who was involved in the Yorkshire Ripper case. Instead, Roger Cross, who earned the title of 1976’s Crime Reporter of the Year, emerges as the real-life journalist famed for his participation in the news coverage of the killer’s crimes.

Consequently, Cross of the Yorkshire Post remains the real-life counterpart behind Mike Dugdale, rendering himself a possible unofficial inspiration. Within the show’s narrative, Mike Dugdale plays an instrumental role within the newspaper sectors as the journalist who remains in contact with Dennis Hoban and the Yorkshire Police Department regarding the ongoing Yorkshire Ripper killings.

In real life, Detective Hoban was also in conversations with the media about his cases. The detective’s son, Richard Hoban, spoke about the same and said, “My dad wouldn’t have been so successful if he hadn’t used the media and journalists.” The man added further, “He had a good relationship with the crime reporters from The Yorkshire Post and the Yorkshire Evening Post and was often interviewed on Calendar and Look North; he really appreciated the work the journalists did.”

Therefore, the show’s depiction of Mike Dugdale’s correspondence with Dennis remains authentic to reality. Furthermore, according to reports, Cross, who worked on the Ripper case since the beginning, formed strong connections with the detectives on the case. The journalist is believed to have gained invaluable information from his sources that ultimately raised the quality of his pieces. Furthermore, his research into Peter Sutcliffe’s background, once the authorities revealed the killer’s identity in 1981, strengthened his journalistic ties to the case. As such, Cross is historically remembered for his journalistic role in the Yorkshire Ripper case.

Consequently, by merging Cross and Hoban’s accounts, we can conclude that the crime reporter was likely in touch with the Detective as well. The same increases the likelihood of the fictitious Mike Dugdale’s connection to him. Yet, considering the show goes through the effort of pinning a fictional name on the character, it’s crucial to remember the disconnect between the two. ‘The Long Shadow’ is based on extensive and exhaustive research, finding its origins in Michael Bilton’s nonfiction novel, ‘Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt For The Yorkshire Ripper’ alongside personal accounts from people with connections to the case.

As a result, the show adheres to reality for the most part. Even so, ‘The Long Shadow’ still maintains a subtle level of creative liberty, allowing themselves free reign over the narrative. For the same reason, even though parallels can be drawn between Roger Cross and Mike Dugdale, an inherent distinction remains between the two. Thus, Cross remains only a possible inspiration for Dugdale.

Read More: The Long Shadow: Here Are All The Production Locations