Independent TV Production Company Pernel Media today announces an acquisition by UKTV’s Really and a distribution deal with BBC Worldwide for a major new English language true crime series ’20 Years on Death Row’.
Originally commissioned by French Pay TV channel 13ème Rue and shot entirely on location in the US, ’20 Years on Death Row’ (4 x 60’) features the incredible case of Keith Doolin, a former long-distance truck driver with no previous criminal convictions, currently incarcerated on death row in San Quentin prison around 20 miles north of San Francisco. He was convicted of the murder of two women in 1995 and after 20 years maintaining his innocence whilst awaiting execution he is still in limbo, going through California’s capital appeals system.
Keith Doolin’s case is now a race against time. In late 2016, voters in California elected to speed up the death penalty process whilst Doolin’s defence lawyers claim they have uncovered credible new key evidence that will exonerate Doolin and could save his life and free him.
Doolin’s conviction followed a bizarre series of twists including an alleged botched trial as his original attorney – who was later disbarred and has now passed away - led the defence of Doolin whilst gambling away his defence fund. The case is also remarkable for a witness - who has since committed suicide after being herself convicted of multiple murder - revealing crucial information to her lawyer that further points to Doolin’s innocence.
BBC Worldwide will distribute the series worldwide outside France and the UK.
Emma Sparks, Head of Acquisitions, UKTV, acquired ’20 Years on Death Row’ for UKTV and Jon Lindley, Head of Specialist Factual acquired the series for BBC Worldwide. Executive Producer is Samuel Kissous for Pernel Media.
“The Keith Doolin case is an extraordinary story which we believe sheds a new light on the American justice system. We’re sure that viewers in the UK and around the world will be gripped by this true crime series as they follow Keith’s appeal process, revealing the new evidence and twists and turns of the case” said Samuel Kissous, President of Pernel Media.
“We are so pleased to have agreed our first collaboration with Pernel Media on this ground-breaking series. It’s an explosive series which further cements Really as the UK’s destination channel for True Crime” said Emma Sparks, Head of Acquisitions.
Pernel Media secured access to the case via Doolin’s defense attorneys, Robert R. Bryan and Pamala Sayasane, both of whom specialize in defending people facing the death penalty.
’20 Years on Death Row’ follows the success of Pernel Media’s 4 x 60’ factual entertainment series ‘The Innocence Network’ which also aired on 13ème Rue and is distributed internationally by all3media International.