The Pembrokeshire Murders touches upon the Bullseye episode which John Cooper appeared in, so let’s get its importance explained.

A promising year of television is underway and audiences have already been treated to some enticing titles.

At the moment, attention has centred on The Pembrokeshire Murders, which began airing on ITV on Monday, January 11th 2021.

This three-episode miniseries concludes on Wednesday, January 13th and is based on the real-life serial killer John Cooper and the events which led to his arrest.

A promoted Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins reopened murder cases from the 1980s, using new technology advancements and more to find the culprit.

John Cooper received life imprisonment in May 2011, but interestingly, an episode of Bullseye played an important role in his capture…


The Pembrokeshire Murders: John Cooper Bullseye episode

In the mini-series, Keith Allen (who plays John Cooper) is digitally inserted into real footage of the Bullseye episode in which Cooper appeared.

The episode aired in 1989, but its significance wouldn’t be discovered until much later.

As highlighted by The Independent, Cooper had already murdered two people four years ahead of the episode’s air date. In the episode, host Jim Bowen asked Cooper: “You’ve got an unusual hobby John, haven’t you?”

Cooper replied: “Oh yes. The scuba diving … on the coast line. We’ve got deep water where you can swim over mountains and all sorts of things.”

He failed to answer enough general knowledge questions and was kicked off, but was later invited back. However, in the later round, he failed to miss the target with the three darts he had been given.

While the appearance may have appeared totally unimportant at the time, it was three weeks later that he threatened a couple at gunpoint near a coastal cliff edge in Pembrokeshire.

The couple – Peter and Gwenda Dixon – were shot and killed and in 2008, the significance of the Bullseye episode was realised.

Superintendent Wilkins requested for ITV presenter Jonathan Hill to track down a copy of Cooper’s episode and the footage showed him exhibiting his knowledge of the location where the Dixon couple was shot.

It’s also worth noting that a police sketch played a hand in determining Cooper at the scene, as the sketch resembled Cooper as he appeared on Bullseye, with the stances matching.

You can watch Cooper’s appearance on Bullseye in the video below [skip to 1.50]:

Steve Wilkins reflects

As you can see, the Bullseye episode was integral to the case and Cooper’s conviction.

Traces of blood were found on clothing in his home and he was arrested in 2009, going on to be sentenced to life in 2011.

The Independent includes that he has appealed the verdict on a number of occasions; all of his attempts have been unsuccessful.

In his 2013 book The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching the Bullseye Killer, the retired Steve Wilkins wrote: “You could hardly make it up. For the first time we could see Cooper as he would have looked at the time of the Dixons’ murder. In my 30 years service, I had seen many artist’s impressions and photo-fit efforts, but I had never seen as close a match as this.”


In other news, was there a blackout at the Vatican?