Netflix today released its long-awaited big-budget documentary on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, despite opposition from a family and TV-industry speculation that program-makers to gain access to key individuals
The US streaming service first commissioned the program in 2017, amid the explosion of true-crime and cold-case programming following the success of Making a Murderer. But despite spending enormous sums to produce eight hour-long episodes, its release has been delayed, speculation about what, if anything, the show has not yet been done.
Kate and Gerry McCann, whose daughter went missing in 2007, when she was three, while on holiday in the Portuguese town of Luz da Luz, have repeatedly refused to take part in the show. The London-based company that has made the show on behalf of Netflix, to give an interview.
Clarence Mitchell, the family's former spokesperson, who still assists with media inquiries, says: “Kate and Gerry and their family were approached some months ago to participate in the documentary. Kate and Gerry didn't ask for it and they didn't see how it will help search for Maddie on a practical level, so they chose not to engage. "
Instead, the program has interviewed the Portuguese officials who originally investigated the case, many of whom have since established media careers discussing the incident.
The journalists who covered the story at the time have declined to take part.
Those who are thought to have given interviews include the Portuguese detective Gonçalo Amaral and the journalists Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, who wrote a book on the case. Others include people from the Portuguese police, as well as the Briton Robert Murat and the Russian Sergey Malinka, plus the child-protection experts Jim Gamble and Ernie Allan.
Some associates of the McCanns did take part. Brian Kennedy, the millionaire businessman who helped fund the initial search for Madeleine, has also talked to the show.
The McCanns themselves have kept a lower profile in recent years, being selective in their media appearances. Despite £ 11.75 million, or € 13.75 million, being spent by the end of this month London’s Metropolitan Police continued to fund Operation Grange until the end of this month.
Earlier this month the program was listed on Netflix's new release schedule for today, only for the show to be removed from the public list. A trailer was released yesterday. Today's release of the series for streaming concludes difficult route to screen for a program that was some points to have vanished for ever.
On line with Netflix's secretive style, the show was formally announced as a commission, aside from speculation in the industry press. The streaming service also has a tendency to drop shows with a minimum of advance publicity, instead of relying on the power of its home screen and algorithms and word-of-mouth publicity to spread awareness of its new shows. However, individuals with knowledge of the production say the trailer was released last week, only to be pulled at the last minute.
British documentary-makers are now looking at the program's production values and wondering what Netflix will have to show for its enormous investment, rather than new material. The show's executive producer, Emma Cooper, recently left the independent production company, which is owned by Vice, for unknown reasons.
Although the Netflix show is speculated to cost more than € 1.1 million for the hour, the 2017 BBC Panorama documentary Madeleine McCann: The Years on is understood to have cost less than € 225,000 Netflix declined to comment.
One rival documentary producer said: “There was a lot of speculation about the series ever since it was heard. Around 50 people are thought to have been interviewed for it, so they are taken to make and get everything signed off. It is not going to be a big ‘reveal’, though apparently some people are talking for the first time in it. "
The McCanns were offered the chance to view the Netflix documentary in advance, although they declined. Carter Ruck, not thought to be considering any legal action at this stage. But British media lawyers pointed out that there are not enough time to do so, meaning the risk of damages could be higher than with a traditional one-off TV broadcast. – Guardian