True cops weigh in on true crime

How accurately are police portrayed in true crime dramas?

There are mixed thoughts on the subject according to two men who should know, and it depends on the production.

NSW Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin tells ABC Radio, “I accept that things are put on there for entertainment value and it’s not a documentary.

“If the essence of what police do and how they interact with the criminals and the witnesses are played, I don’t get too frustrated.

“When I’ve spoken to writers on TV shows, when I tell the actual facts of the case, it almost comes to the point that the public wouldn’t believe that if it actually occurred,” Chief Inspector Jubelin says.

Jubelin was portrayed by Matt Nable in Nine’s 2012 Underbelly: Badness and is full of praise for the actor.

“With Matt, he could basically play me better than I could play me. I caught up with him on occasions and he’d mimic me — it was quite embarrassing.”

But former NSW police officer turned crime writer Duncan McNab says, “There are some TV shows and books that just get it completely wrong.

“The real story is fascinating, captivating — yet they seem to want to fictionalise things and you get a far more drab yarn.”

He describes 2010’s Underbelly: The Golden Mile as nonsense.

“The place was far more vivid, far more exciting, far more dangerous. They missed all that and they went for a bit of glitz and the occasional exposed breast.”

Both men spoke at the Sydney Crime Writers Festival earlier this month and both are agreed on ABC’s 1995 miniseries Blue Murder.

“It was so alarmingly accurate. I just sat there thinking, ‘How did they get this on television?'” says McNab.

No word on the 2017 sequel….

You can hear their interview here.


  1. Secret Squïrrel

    Interesting to hear their thoughts on the original Blue Murder versus the increasingly limp and vapid Underbelly. Blue Murder was (and is) stunning television and, at that time, only the ABC could have made it. Contrast that with the disappointing sequel on Seven.

    I would have been interested to hear their thoughts on the first Underbelly because I thought that it was pretty accurate with its depiction of events and wasn’t too badly done.

    • The original Blue Murder also came around the time of Phoenix/Janus – ABC productions also and both excellent.

      And the boat/pot belly stove scene in Blue Murder still haunts me to this day…

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