Shoot to Kill

Directed by Peter Kosminsky, Written by Michael Eaton, Produced by Nigel Stafford-Clarke

A dramatisation of the events surrounding a number of killings in Armagh in 1982, and the subsequent ‘Stalker’ inquiry into the allegations of ‘shoot to kill’ policy in operation in the RUC.

Original transmission: ITV 03/06/1990 (120mins)
ITV 04/06/1990 (60mins)
ITV 04/06/1990 (70mins)

The original transmission of ‘Shoot to Kill’ was directly followed by a discussion show concerning the issues raised by the series. It was simply called ‘The Issues’ and was chaired by Olivia O’Leary. Some of those directly involved in the ‘Stalker’ inquiry (featured in the drama) also appeared in the discussion, as well as the director Peter Kosminsky, a member of Amnesty International and a number of MPs. Due to the hard-hitting nature of the series, and taking legal advice into account, UTV refused to show ‘Shoot to Kill’ in Northern Ireland.

The film featured allegations that the police in Northern Ireland was running a hit squad to kill active paramilitaries. The widespread belief that the police were murdering suspects in this way may have delayed the amelioration of relationships between the police and the Catholic community.

Further Infomation


Documentary/drama (Three-part serial) - Broadcast


Zenith Productions (for Yorkshire Television)

Release Year


Period Set




Michael Eaton


Peter Kosminsky


Nigel Stafford-Clarke


Jack Shepherd - John Stalker

David Calder - Det Chief Supt John Thorburn

John Ryan - Det Chief Insp John Simons

Jane Cunliffe - Det Sgt Eileen Scarrett

T.P. McKenna - Chief Con Sir John Hermon

Ian McElhinney - Asst Chief Con Trevor Forbes

Oliver Maguire - Det Supt Thomas George Anderson

George Shane - Det Chief Insp Samuel George Flanagan

Patrick Drury - Detective Inspector

Richard Hawley - Con John Robinson

Gary Whelan - Con David Brannigan

Aaron Harris - Sergeant X

Daragh O'Malley - Constable X

Dick Holland - Constable Z

Peter Cellier - MI5 officer

Barry Birch - Michael Tighe

Breffni McKenna - Martin McCauley

James Greene - Director of Public Prosecutions for NI

Tony Mathews - HM Insp of Constabulary for the NW

Peadar Lamb - Mr Tighe

Stevan Rimkus - IRA informant

Denys Hawthorne - Professor Marshall