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Born to Kill: everything you need to know about your new TV obsession

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Kayleigh Dray
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Would you know if your child was a psychopath?

Channel 4 is set to explore all of the complexities that come with the unconditional nature of maternal love in their new four-part miniseries, Born to Kill – and the psychological drama has already generated a lot of hype on social media.

So what’s the show about?



Created by the same production team behind Line of Duty – and penned by the writers of BBC’s Rillington Place – the drama focuses on Jenny (Romola Garai) and her troubled teenage son, Sam (Jack Rowan).

For years, Sam has believed that his father died in a car crash – a subject which his mother refuses to speak to him about. So, naturally, he finds it difficult to adjust when she forges a new relationship with fellow single parent Bill (Daniel Mays).

It isn’t long before Sam strikes up a bond with Bill’s young daughter, Chrissy (Laura Peake) – but their blossoming friendship is, perhaps, not all it appears to be. Because, as the dark truth about his family’s past is revealed, Chrissy inspires the teen to act upon his violent, murderous, and psychopathic urges.

Watch the trailer for Born to Kill below:

Kate Ashfield, who co-wrote the series with Tracey Malone, explained that the decision to make the subject of this drama a teenage killer was a deliberate one.

She told Huffington Post: “The question arises of what his mother should do, and how much you put down to normal teenage behaviour? They don’t actually call teenagers psychopaths, because a lot of teenage behaviour is very similar.”

Ashfield added: “The thing about him being a teenager is that you go along with him up to a point and then, there will be moments for both [sympathy and horror], from scene to scene, hopefully.

“That’s the whole point of him being a child - could something have stopped him if the stars had aligned? If his mother Jenny had come back with the chips? If it could have been different? But then in the end, his personality takes over.”



Malone added: “We really wanted to subvert the classic idea of a serial killer, the man in his 30s living in a basement.

“We wanted to challenge that view by looking down the other end of the telescope, making Sam a boy.”

Jack Rowan as Sam in Born to Kill

Jack Rowan as Sam in Born to Kill

Meanwhile Garai has opened up about the show to The Guardian, explaining why she chose to take on the role of Sam’s mother – whom she describes as being a character with a “full and rich emotional life”.

“I was [initially] worried about making a man who is violent towards women a protagonist of the show,” she admitted. “And I had many, many conversations about it. About dialogue, about the voyeuristic element. I wanted to make sure it was an examination of his psychology, and that the women in the show, including his victim, were all characters.”

Born to Kill will air on Channel 4 on 21 April

Born to Kill will air on Channel 4 on 21 April

Garai added: “I would never do a show like this if the victim didn’t have a life and a job and lines. The writers did enough to put the violence against women into context.”


Everything you need to know about Born to Kill

Who’s in it?

Garai, Rowan, Mays, and Peake will be joined by Elizabeth Counsell, Sharon Small, Jeany Spark, Karl Johnson, and Richard Coyle.

What genre is it?

Mays has said that the show “seems to exist between genres”, adding: ‘It’s sort of a thriller, sort of a crime drama, but at its heart, it’s a drama about relationships, and the premise of nature versus nurture. I was blown away with it, the filming of it, and getting into Sam’s headspace.”

What TV shows/films has it been likened to?

If you’re a fan of Broadchurch, The Replacement, and the like, you’ll probably be a fan of this show. It’s also been likened favourably to We Need to Talk About Kevin – the critically-acclaimed Tilda Swinton film about a mother’s troubled relationship with her murderous teenage son.

When will it be on television?

Born to Kill begins on Thursday 21 April at 9pm.

What channel will it be on?

Channel 4.

Images: Channel 4

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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