The Long Shadow: Is the biopic’s character, Les Hanley, inspired by a real-life detective?

The Long Shadow: Is the biopic's character, Les Hanley, inspired by a real-life detective?

“The Long Shadow” is a biographical series about the brutal murders committed by Peter Sutcliffe in Yorkshire during the 1970s. It focuses into Dennis Hoban and Jim Hobson’s investigation, as well as the experiences of the women and families targeted by Sutcliffe. The narrative not only investigates the circumstances surrounding the murders, but also considers their long-term impact on English society and culture.

As a result, the Yorkshire Police Force becomes a prominent element in the story, with its many officers and detectives consistently appearing in the show. Among them is Detective Inspector Les Hanley, portrayed by actor Jack Deam, who serves as Jim Hobson’s right-hand man once Hobson takes charge of the investigation. Given this, audiences are likely intrigued by Hanley’s character and its real-life inspiration.

The Long Shadow (2023) 1
The Long Shadow (2023)

Is Les Hanley a Real Detective?

No, Les Hanley is not a real detective. While many elements of ‘The Long Shadow’ draw inspiration from real-life events, Les Hanley stands out as a fictional character within the narrative. The series follows the Yorkshire Police Force’s years-long investigation into a serial killer responsible for the deaths of thirteen women and the attempted murder of several others.

Therefore, by doing this, the story includes several law enforcement officers engaged in the investigation. Among them are recognizable figures like Detective Chief Superintendent Jim Hobson, renowned for his role in pursuing Sutcliffe alongside George Oldfield. While these characters have clear ties to real-life individuals, Hanley’s presence lacks such evident roots. Thus, it suggests that Hanley might be a product of fictional creation within the narrative.

The series prominently features police investigations led by Detectives such as Hobson and Hoban, who form strong bonds with their colleagues and have a significant impact on the storyline. Conversely, Hanley seldom enjoys comparable chances as his appearances usually involve him working alongside other officers, limiting his chances to shine individually. Consequently, it’s not unexpected to discover that his character lacks a real-world inspiration, making his presence in the show a fictional creation.

The Long Shadow (2023) 2
The Long Shadow (2023)

Despite Hanley’s fictional nature, the show remains unaffected because the other characters have strong ties to reality, as evidenced by extensive research. For example, Richard Hoban, Dennis Hoban’s son, shared insights and family anecdotes about his father, particularly from the mid-1970s, with the show’s creative team, allowing them to portray the character more authentically.

Similarly, many people associated with Sutcliffe’s crimes, whether through a relationship with the victims or involvement in law enforcement, shared their personal experiences with the show’s production team. This enabled the show to maintain a sense of authenticity even in smaller fictionalized aspects of the storylines, such as the character Les Hanley. Despite efforts to ground the narrative in reality, there appears to be no identifiable link to a detective named Les Hanley in any historical records of the criminal investigation from that era. Therefore, it’s probable that Les Hanley is purely a fictional addition to the show, amidst a cast otherwise rich with historically resonant characters.