TV's Top 5 Most Terrifying Killers

From the shadowy figure who went on a slaughter spree at Sun Hill, to the ritual killing which baffled Taggart, here's our pick of the scariest television killers.

TV’s Top 5 Most Terrifying Killers

1. THE SUN HILL SERIAL KILLER (THE BILL)

The coppers in The Bill dealt with some serious mayhem over the years, from gang killings to bent detectives to the occasional epic explosion at their own station. And then, of course, there was the Sun Hill serial killer, who started picking off apparently unconnected people throughout the area. The victims included a teenage tearaway at war with her step-mum, a woman who'd been harassed by a flasher, and someone who'd been recently pressured into giving evidence against her violent husband.

But, as if that wasn't bad enough, the killer then targeted one of Sun Hill's own: beloved PC Cass Rickman, who went missing while on her way to the staff Christmas party. Could the culprit really be her boyfriend Simon Kitson? The coppers at Sun Hill certainly thought so, venting their fury at the hapless Kitson, but there was more to this grim story than they realised, and the resulting revelations made this an unforgettable chapter in the history of The Bill.

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2. THE WETHERTON CHOKER (DALZIEL AND PASCOE)

To be truly frightening, a killer needs to have a memorable MO. Something that makes them stand apart from the common run of criminals, and makes even hardened, scowling, perpetually unimpressed detectives (we're looking at you, Dalziel) sit up and take notice. Step forward, the Wetherton Choker, who had an eerie fondness for calling up the local paper after every murder. And not just to have a random natter either. He would, in fact, recite lines from Hamlet and then hang up.

The Shakespeare-spouting psychopath flummoxed Dalziel and Pascoe, who tried to piece together the connections between the victims, and those who knew them - including a local teacher who happened to be overseeing an amateur production of Hamlet. Things took a turn for the unusual when a local clairvoyant became involved in the case, and then - just because the case wasn't difficult enough - Dalziel became embroiled in the politics around a nearby camp of Travellers. With a workload like his, it's no wonder Dalziel never cracks a smile.

Watch Dalziel and Pascoe on UKTV play

3. THE MASS SHOOTER (SILENT WITNESS)

While delving into the apparent suicide of a student on campus, Dr Nikki Alexander and her colleagues soon realised he'd drawn up a potential hit list of other students who'd been bullying him. Still, his death meant the massacre could no longer happen, right? On the contrary. Shortly after, a mysterious figure started gunning down people at the university, while Nikki Alexander and Harry Cunningham were in one of the classrooms.

Frantically barricading themselves in the room, they were forced to watch in horror as the assailant killed people outside, and then tried to shoot his way through their door. It was one of the most nerve-shredding moments in Silent Witness history, and it was just the beginning of the horror, as it soon transpired there was possibly a second shooter, and a dark conspiracy that would entangle Nikki and Harry.

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4. THE BLACK MAGIC MURDERER (TAGGART)

"I'd have a large whisky before you go in there." That's what one traumatised chap said to the coppers who arrived at the scene of Taggart's grisliest murder. Jim Taggart himself wasn't one of them, though. Our favourite dour Scot only inherited the case into the death of local whisky magnate James Martin when a colleague retired. And Jim was far from delighted about taking on the investigation.

And who can blame him? This was a real horrorshow of a case, with Mr Martin found cut up into pieces by a chainsaw, his skin adorned with weird marks, and Hebrew letters daubed on the wall in blood. As someone pithily put it, "That wasn't common practice, that was the work of a maniac." So, was a Manson-like cult behind it, or was it actually someone who merely wanted to LOOK like he was practising some kind of ritual killing? It was down to Jackie Reid to find out the dark truth...

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4. THE FAKE DOCTOR (WAKING THE DEAD)

Now this is an unusual one for Waking the Dead, because our killer's identity was made pretty much clear very early on. It wasn't so much a whodunit as a whydoit. The victim was a millionaire businessman who was found dead in the cellar of an old factory. The apparent culprit was a successful, handsome, happily married scientist called Dr Nick Henderson. A pillar of the community. A jet-setting, high-flying healthcare pioneer.

Why would this man kidnap, imprison, and psychologically torture someone in the bowels of a factory? That's what Peter Boyd and his team were determined to find out, and the truths they uncovered about Dr Henderson's double life, and his carefully fabricated career, were more startling and bizarre than they could have imagined.

Watch Waking the Dead on UKTV play