In a compelling three-part documentary set to premiere on BBC Three and iPlayer, Zara McDermott embarks on a poignant journey to unravel the circumstances surrounding the untimely death of Dorset teenager, Gaia Pope-Sutherland.
Titled “Gaia: A Death on Dancing Ledge,” this revealing series delves deep into the case of Gaia Pope-Sutherland, bringing to the forefront the family’s relentless pursuit of truth and justice. Gaia, a vibrant 19-year-old, tragically passed away in November 2017. The documentary meticulously tracks the events leading up to her death, shining a light on the failures and oversights by the authorities involved in her care, including the police and healthcare professionals.
Through intimate interviews with Gaia’s loved ones, viewers will gain insight into her life and the circumstances that ultimately led to her demise. Additionally, the former Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, who was in office during Gaia’s passing, will share their perspective. As Zara McDermott engages with key individuals connected to the case, she continues to tackle the thought-provoking themes explored in her previous successful BBC documentary films.
The timely three-part series is scheduled to air on BBC Three and iPlayer starting from Tuesday, 25th July. Its primary objective is to investigate whether adequate measures were taken to protect and support Gaia prior to her tragic death, while also examining the broader implications for the safety and well-being of other young women and girls in the area. The documentary raises pertinent questions about the changes that need to be implemented for a more secure future.
“Gaia: A Death on Dancing Ledge” presents an unfiltered and candid portrayal of Gaia’s story, meticulously pieced together for the first time for a television audience. The contributors, each offering their unique perspectives on this heart-wrenching case, add depth and authenticity to the narrative.
Gaia’s older sister, Clara, twin sister, Maya, Mum, Kim and Dad, Richard, say: “Gaia would have been 25 earlier this month, our hearts ache thinking about everything she was and all the possibilities of what she could have become. With the release of this series, we’re clinging on to the hope that we can be part of the change Gaia so desperately needed.
“We want young people and survivors watching to know that they are not alone; there are people and organisations that will listen to and support you. In speaking up, united we can eliminate the perpetuation of rape culture in society and hold the authorities that are meant to protect us to account.”
Zara McDermott, TV presenter and documentary maker says: “When I first heard about the disappearance of 19-year-old Gaia on the news in 2017, I was immediately struck by her story. She and I were the same age. I saw Gaia’s face on the news for days and days after this, and it really struck a chord with me. A young woman with the world at her feet, yet her life was over before it had even begun. I began diving deeper into Gaia’s story, alongside her brave family, and I uncovered a huge amount in the year and a half I spent down in Dorset. This young woman needed a voice, and I wanted to tell her story.”
Clare Sillery, Head of Documentary Commissioning, says: “We are delighted to give a platform to this incredibly important and timely documentary series and for Gaia’s story to be front and centre. It follows on from the hugely poignant subjects that Zara McDermott has delved into already in her filmmaking for the BBC and looks at whether enough was done to protect Gaia and other young women and girls, exploring the impact on those closest to Gaia. We hope the series will contribute to a very important conversation about what needs to change in the future.”
Gaia: A Death on Dancing Ledge (3×60) was commissioned by Head of Documentary Commissioning, Clare Sillery for BBC Three and iPlayer. The Commissioning Editors are Max Gogarty and David Hodgkinson. It is being made by Summer Films where the Executive Producers are Lucy Hillman and Sam Whittaker.