'Murder Island': What is the detective show about? How does it work? When is it on TV?

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'Murder Island' gives amateur sleuths the chance to work a case. (Channel 4)

A unique spin on the detective series is launching on Channel 4 with Murder Island - but what's it all about?

The programme is part crime thriller, part reality show as contestants race to solve a mystery written by Ian Rankin in a bid to win a hefty cash prize.

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Here's all you need to know about Murder Island.

When is Murder Island on TV?

The six-episode series starts on Tuesday, 5 October at 9.30pm and airs weekly on Channel 4.

What is Murder Island?

Ep1.
Will the contestants spot the clues? (Channel 4)

Detective dramas are always a sure-fire hit with viewers and Channel 4 is taking things one step further with Murder Island by immersing contestants and viewers into an investigation.

In the fictional story, the body of Charly Hendricks is discovered in an old property that she has been renting from a pub landlord on a remote Scottish island with a population of just 173 with one shop and one school.

Four teams of contestants act as amateur sleuths who examine the crime scene for clues to try to track down who killed Charly - and why.

Ep1.  Charly.
Victim Charly before the murder takes place. (Channel 4)

We're confident of a satisfying plot as the case has been written by bestselling crime author Ian Rankin, known for his Rebus novels, so Murder Island should have plenty of twists and a flawless explanation.

It's an entertaining show to play along with at home, but the contestants have a bigger incentive as they're playing for a £50,000 cash prize.

But while many of us may spend our evenings shouting at the screen during detective dramas convinced we could work out whodunnit, the crime experts on Murder Island are quick to point out the holes in the reasoning of the contestants taking part.

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Rankin said: "I've got to admit that even I was a little bit surprised at how slapdash our teams were when they visited the murder scene.

"You know, big clues were not found and they tramped blood across the carpet. There were very basic mistakes early on."

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He added: "I like the fact that they felt they knew how a murder enquiry operates and thought that they'd be able to work it out really quickly.

"Then it dawns on them that it's not going to be as easy as they thought, that's just a wonderful moment."

Who are the contestants?

Ep1.  Sarah and Richmond.
Sarah and Richmond travel to the island. (Channel 4)

There are four pairs of contestants competing for the prize money.

Sarah, 28, and Richmond, 30, are an engaged couple from London with a three-year-old daughter and Sarah has studied criminology.

Andrew, 28, and Nick, 33, are brothers-in-law from London and Edinburgh and although Andrew comes from a long line of detectives, he never joined the force himself.

Chrissie, 77, and Caroline, 64, are next-door neighbours from Staffordshire with a shared love of crime novels and TV dramas.

Lastly, Dot, 22, and Rox, 24, are best friends from Hastings who've both been pursuing training in private investigation and criminology and are considering career changes.

Who are the crime experts?

Parm with Graham McMillan and Simon Harding.
The experts have a wealth of detective knowledge. (Channel 4)

There are three former detectives working on the show who have had more than their fair share of experiences on murder investigations.

Parm Sandhu is a former Chief Superintendent with the Met and was the highest ranking female Asian police officer in the force when she retired in 2019. She has worked on counter terrorism, fraud, cyber security and corruption cases.

Simon Harding is a retired Detective Chief Inspector with the Met who served on the specialist crime unit for homicide and has worked on more than 80 murder investigations.

Graham "Maca" McMillan worked as a Detective Inspector for the serious and organised crime unit at Bedfordshire Police and has skills as a hostage and crisis negotiator as well as having worked on murders, kidnaps, and organised crime group cases.

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