Another true story drama, another case of criticism from those who were there, claiming it was fictitious.
Former assistant police commissioner Clive Small has told KIIS FM Catching Milat scenes depicting Detective Paul Gordon (Richard Cawthorne) were inaccurate. Small says Gordon worked on the case for about 5 months, not two years, and was not the man who caught Milat.
“I can tell you that quite a number of the people on the task force and quite a lot of other people that were associated were very upset. And I think the show has also shown a fair deal of disrespect to the family and friends of the victims and I think that’s a bit unnecessary and upsetting,” he told the Kyle and Jackie O radio show today.
Small (portrayed on screen by actor Geoff Morrell) said Gordon had not met English backpacker Paul Onions nor met the family of victim Joanne Walters.
But these kinds of criticisms are not new in TV drama, whether levelled at Catching Milat, Paper Giants, Underbelly or other dramatisations.
The script by ‘Dalton Dartmouth’ was based on the book “Sins of the Brother” by Mark Whittaker and Les Kennedy. As has become increasingly common, the credits suggests some dramatic embellishment while the media kit is clear about fictitious characters (played by David Field, Salvatore Coco and Helen Thomson). Fictitious characters are usually a merger of actual characters, but not always, and may exist to facilitate storytelling.
Clearly a drama is not a documentary, but for those who were there, such embellishments can impact on reputation. Paper Giants was the subject of a legal case when the former husband of Ita Buttrose, Alasdair “Mac” Macdonald, objected to his portrayal as played by actor Nathan Page. The case was eventually settled out of court.
So where do we draw the line between dramatic license and truth?
It’s important to stay truthful to the spirit of the original story and to be upfront about such embellishment. The audience is usually a good judge of credibility. In the case of Catching Milat they would appear to have ruled in the show’s favour on this occasion, with numbers improving from the first week to the second.
Source: News Corp