The Killing Pool by kevin sampson

The Game-Changing New Thriller

from red union films


Liverpool, drug smuggling capital of the UK. Stronghold of some of Europe’s most sophisticated and international crime networks, its docks have borne witness to centuries of bad cargo - from the historic slave trade to the large-scale drug shipments of more recent times. Known as 'Smack City' after its heroin epidemic of the post-industrial 1980s, Liverpool then became the epicenter of the booming European cocaine trade in the prosperous 1990s, with Scouse crime bosses topping The Times' rich lists. Now, heroin is returning to Merseyside, flowing out from the docks, onto the city streets and on through the rest of the country.

The Killing Pool is a bold game-changing 8 x 60' returnable series set against the vibrant and turbulent backdrop of Liverpool – one of the the UK's most diverse, historic yet fast-moving cities.

The series is told through two related parallel timelines – one set in present day Liverpool, the other in 1984. Each storyline has its own uniquely engrossing lead. In 2016, it’s DCI Billy McCartney, a workaholic loner, passionately fixated on one particular long-time Liverpool drug lord. That same shadowy overlord is slowly revealed to be inextricably linked to our second police officer, who finds herself at the centre of another frightening heroin case back in 1984. McCartney’s obsession with both cases is the legacy of a brutal crime played out over decades.

That other police officer is DS Harriet “Hattie” Vine. Hattie is a fiercely ambitious young woman struggling with the moral compromises she is forced to make to get ahead in the boorish male world of 1980s Liverpool drug policing. In the wake of the notoriously violent Toxteth riots – a response to the police’s racist stop-and-search tactics and the worst in Britain during the 20th century – the city is bristling with tension and anger, a powder keg waiting to go off. Hattie, eager to get ahead and make a difference, accepts a dangerous undercover mission.

The precise nature of the connection between Hattie and Mac will be teased out as the series unfolds, with the audience initially uncertain of what it is that ties the two leads together – or why it is that Mac keeps a photograph of Hattie on his desk? However, as the truth becomes apparent, so do the intense emotional stakes for Mac's case in the present: as well as putting away one of the most notorious and prolific crime bosses in the city's history, it also has the potential to free him from the chains that tie him to the traumatic events of his past life.

Writer Kevin Sampson brings a vivid authenticity to the series. Liverpool’s history as the UK’s pre-eminent port city brings with it a history and expertise in smuggling along with a highly developed and sophisticated criminal underworld. The Killing Pool’s Liverpool is a culturally rich, ethnically diverse city and the series will reflect this in its characters on both sides of the law and in the subjects it addresses.

creative vision

I grew up fascinated by the awful beauty of American gangster films - The Godfather trilogy, Once Upon A Time In America and Goodfellas in particular. For all their epic scale and brutality there was always humanity, too. At their heart these films had a flawed anti-hero, struggling to find their own truth in an unforgiving world.

In more recent times that tradition has been continued and enhanced by television, treating episodic crime drama with cinematic intensity. If The Sopranos is still the bench-mark, there have been complex and addictive contenders from all over the globe, many of the best – The Wire, Gomorrah, The Killing – set in port cities. Each of these dramas is absolutely unique and distinctive, each drawing something of its special character from the ports in which its dramas play out. Each, too, has at their core a charismatic malcontent whose own journey is as layered and enthralling as the cases they seek to crack.

I have long believed that Liverpool has the depth, the complexity, the diversity and the abundant personality to form a compelling backdrop to a riveting crime drama - nowhere more so Toxteth, Liverpool 8. The re-invention and arguable gentrification of many of the area's temples and landmark buildings bear eloquent witness to vicissitudes and rebirth of a tough, fighting city – a visual grammar The Killing Pool will embrace. I've also thought that the decades-long struggle between the city’s traffickers and law enforcement agencies was a fertile arena for the ultimate outsider to ply his trade. McCartney and Toxteth are made for one another.

A stone’s throw from the city’s familiar waterfront, Liverpool 8 is the vibrant barrio built by by immigrants, sailors and stowaways. For over two centuries the streets around Granby, Princes Park and Toxteth have been home to all manner of clubs, blues and shebeens, many carrying the names and nationalities of their originators; Dutch Eddie’s, The Yoruba, The Ibo, The Somali, The Sierra Leone. Though much of this grass-roots culture has been supplanted by 24-hour licensing, Toxteth remains a vivid and vital precinct, lively yet permanently tense, with a historic mistrust for the forces of law and order. It’s a vibrant, volatile community whose streets and subcultures have long been ripe for evocation on screen. This has been my ambition with The Killing Pool – to create a world so kinetic and people it with characters so conflicted and irresistible that it might in time stand comparison with other great crime series of our times.

Kevin Sampson

Series Overview

Detective Chief Inspector Billy McCartney stands over a decapitated corpse in scrubland close to Liverpool docks. The slaying carries all the hallmarks of a gangland hit - a message from the underworld to snitches, cops and rival gangs.

One mile away, a Liverpool-Somali girl, Misha, staggers into a run-down bar, dazed and confused. The bar’s owner, a career criminal called Shakespeare who dresses like an Edwardian dandy and speaks in clipped RP, cannot get a word out of her. Shakespeare, a chivalrous old Trinidadian who has called Liverpool his home since the 70s, is determined to help her.

DCI McCartney is all too well aware that the clock is ticking. The butchered body was one Kalan Rozaki, youngest brother of a notorious Liverpool-Kurdish crime family; except Kalan himself was no criminal. For almost a year his brothers have been under full-time Drug Squad surveillance as McCartney’s team slowly closed the net on the Rozakis’ inter-continental heroin trafficking organization. McCartney’s key witness and chief informant on the case is someone with intimate insider knowledge of the Rozaki clan’s operation... their baby brother, Kalan.

As Mac stands over what is left of Kalan - his torso lacerated with deep cuts from a machete or meat cleaver - he can’t work out what he’s dealing with. Is this the work of Kalan’s own brothers? A hired hitman? Or is a rival gangster making a move on the Rozaki brothers? Whoever wanted Kalan dead has sent a horrific message in the manner of his slaughter.

Working alongside Una Farlowe, a Witness Protection Officer determined to find out who murdered her charge, McCartney’s investigation into Kalan’s murder peels back layer after layer of a decades-long dynasty of drug-smuggling. Each revelation plunges Mac further back into the dark heart of an unsolved drug crime that weighs heavy on his soul – a crime that links back to a young police officer, DS Hattie Vine, who was brutally assaulted in 1984 following an undercover drugs bust gone horribly wrong. McCartney wants to catch the Rozakis - badly - but he wants the shadowy financiers behind their drug empire even more. Above all, he wants Terry Connolly – a long time Liverpool drug lord with shady links to Mac's past. The closer McCartney gets to Kalan’s killer, the closer he comes to facing down a lifetime’s torment and facing up to the possibility, finally, of closure.

There is one solid gold witness to the killing, Kalan’s girlfriend, Misha - but Misha has vanished without trace. Meanwhile a shipload of unadulterated heroin is sailing ever closer to the Port of Liverpool and Mac’s key informant is dead. As dawn breaks on his day of reckoning, McCartney’s priorities have become fatally intertwined: find Kalan’s killer, rescue Misha and swoop on the Rozakis as their heroin lands. Then, and only then, can he unmask the demon who has haunted his adult life.



DCI Billy McCartney - a gifted and tenacious investigator - is a man weighed down by secrets. His passionate devotion to locking up the most violent and corrupt of criminals in the present has its roots in the long shadow cast by his complicated past. Consumed by his work and isolated by his inability to open up to those around him, he initially cuts a lonely figure – cut off from any life outside of that of catching criminals. However, as the series peels back layer after layer of its central conspiracy, it will also peel back the layers of Mac's own personal history – which is crucially linked to the mystery at the heart of the show. In order to do his job and bring down a criminal he has obsessively pursued for decades, he will be forced to confront and expose a past trauma he has long sought to forget.


Hattie's Car

Hattie, 21, has only recently been posted from down South, to the Liverpool Drug Squad. Tenacious, idealistic and ambitious, Hattie is appalled by the tactics and conduct of her colleagues. But, compelled by a driving yet unspoken motivation to bring down the heroin gangs, Hattie accepts a dangerous uncover mission to infiltrate Liverpool’s biggest smack ring. The job brings her into direct conflict with the crime overlord, Terence “Top Cat” Connolly who will become a lifetime nemesis.


Unlike Mac, who is determined to get the result whatever the cost, as a Witness Protection Officer, the strong-willed and fast-witted Una's primary concern is the safety of her charges. Passionate about her job, she begins to find herself at odds with Mac for his reckless attitude. Following Kalan's death – for which she feels responsible – she undertakes to find and protect Misha, even if it costs her her career. But, in spite of their differences in character, there is an undeniable frisson between the two colleagues who are thrust together in the most intense of circumstances. However, Mac's secretive persona prevents him from being able to really open himself up to possibility of a real connection with Una – much to her confusion and anger.


Misha, a tack-sharp Year 2 Law student at Liverpool University still lives in the flat above her parent’s 24-7 grocery store on Lodge Lane, Toxteth’s main shopping thoroughfare. But Misha has secrets that would appall her parents, if they knew. Not only is Misha in a committed relationship – she is dating outside the family’s devout Sunni faith. If anything could be worse than that, it’s that both Kalan, her boyfriend, and Misha herself are practising Sufists. So, when Misha returns from the library one evening to a nikkah (party) to celebrate her own forthcoming arranged marriage, something has to give.


Shakespeare moved to Liverpool from Trinidad in the 1970s. He now runs The Corona, an immaculate yet little-used pub in Toxteth. His roots in the Toxteth community run deep and he has history with Mac going back many years. Shakespeare knows everyone – before Mac, he even knew Hattie Vine... When Misha comes crashing through The Corona’s front door, bleeding and scared out of her wits, he sees an opportunity to help someone in need and possibly even make amends for some of his own sins and the failings of his past. With Mac and Una, he will play a critical role in saving Misha and bringing Terry Connolly and the Rozakis to justice.


Terry Connolly has been the crime boss in Liverpool for a generation. Gangs come and go, drugs fall in and out of fashion, but the cold-blooded, dry-witted TC has remained on top for nearly 40 years. For Mac, he remains the ultimate collar. In addition to his impressive criminal career, he is also deeply implicated in the attack on Hattie Vine many years before. Finally on the verge of holding Terry Connolly to account for his misdeeds, Mac will stop at nothing to bring him in once and for all – drawing a line under a lifetime’s anguish.


The oldest of the Kurdish-Scouse Rozaki brothers, Dara is the most chilling of them. About to reach his peak as an international Narco, Dara has the charm and veneer of a successful business. It takes very little, however, to chip through his lacquer to reveal the ruthless gunman of yore. Yet, as his volatile younger brother Moz reminds him on occasion, Dara was not ever the hard man. Arriving in Liverpool as refugees who barely spoke English, Dara relied upon diplomacy and self-deprecating humour to navigate the brothers’ first playground scraps. What is for sure is that the Rozakis have grown up the hard way and, having left the mean streets behind him, Dara will stop at nothing to cling onto his kingdom. He’d even contemplate killing his own brother, if he had to.


Mac's boss looks on his star detective with an almost paternal affection and pride. However, policing a city as complex and messy as Liverpool over the course of a lifetime has taken him to places and forced him to make compromises he knows would horrify his idealistic young colleague. Hodge has always believed that when it comes to policing, the ends justify the means. However, with the death of Kalan, the whole operation to bring in the Rozakis and Terry Connolly is put on the line and he finds himself resorting to desperate measures that horrify even himself.


Kevin Sampson : Red Union Films Ltd.

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