The Killing Pool by kevin sampson

A Series from IM GLOBAL



Liverpool, drug smuggling capital of the UK. Stronghold of some of Europe’s most sophisticated and wide-reaching 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.

Copenhagen, The Amsterdam of the North. Known worldwide for the open-mindedness of its people, its Michelin-starred restaurants and its seamless fusion of ancient cobbled streets with cutting-edge design, Copenhagen has its dark side, too. For centuries Copenhagen’s maritime history has linked this tough Nordic seaport with Liverpool, even bestowing its citizens with Scouse – their dialect as well as their signature dish. But what connects a taciturn Danish detective with the Port of Liverpool? Why is he equally beguiled, ensnared and appalled by The Killing Pool? And why is he named after one of Liverpool’s most famous sons?

The Killing Pool is a bold game-changing 8 x 60' returnable series set in the vibrant, historic seaports of Liverpool and Copenhagen. The series is told through two related parallel timelines – one set in present day Liverpool, the other set in Copenhagen, 1984. Each storyline has its own uniquely engrossing lead. In 2018, it’s DCI “Mac” McCartney – no first name - a workaholic loner, passionately fixated on bringing down one particular, prolific Liverpool drug lord. That same shadowy overlord is slowly revealed to be inextricably linked to another police officer in Copenhagen who finds herself at the center of a perilous drug-bust back in 1984. McCartney’s obsession with both cases is the legacy of a series of brutal crimes played out over decades….

That other police officer is DS Harriet “Hatti” Vinterberg. Hatti 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 Copenhagen drug policing. The hippie enclave of Christiania, known as Copenhagen’s Green Light District, has been self-regulated and, generally, tolerated by the local cops since the early 70s – but things are changing. In 1984, the Hells Angels gang Heresy moves in on the previously peaceable Pusher Street market. They are joined in their mission by a young Liverpool hoodlum, recently released from jail, and the enforcer sent from the U.K to bring him home. Hatti, dangerously obsessed with the pair, accepts a dangerous undercover mission to crack the gang – with devastating consequences.

As the show unfolds, the true nature of the relationship between Hatti and Mac is slowly revealed, with the audience initially uncertain of what it is that ties the two leads together – or why it is that Mac keeps photographs of Hatti on his desk. However, as the truth becomes apparent, so do the intense emotional stakes for Mac's case in the present: this isn’t simply a case of putting away one of Europe’s most notorious and prolific crime bosses. Masterminding his downfall could, at last, offer McCartney freedom from the chains that tie him to the traumatic events of his past life.


Writer Kevin Sampson is the author of multiple Liverpool-set crime novels, and having spent his entire life in the city he brings a real authenticity and vividness 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.

With shades of The Killing and The Shield – in the fast-moving, gritty realism of its plots; and echoes of The Wire and Spiral in its depth of character and themes – The Killing Pool plunges us into the shady, complex histories of two atmospheric port cities via the suspenseful unravelling of a grisly central crime. Challenging many conventions of the genre while providing all the suspense and excitement that audiences have come to crave, The Killing Pool is an immersive, thrilling, and truly unique watershed series for television.

Vision Statement

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 tradition, a culture and a precinct ripe for evocation in a compelling returnable drama. 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

Inspektor McCartney is intrigued when he’s sent to interview a Danish Somali who has been dumped outside a Liverpool hospital, bleeding to death. By the time Mac gets to Liverpool things have escalated. Police discover a decapitated corpse in scrubland close to Liverpool dock. The slaying carries all the hallmarks of a gangland hit - a message from the underworld to snitches, cops and rival gangs. But soon-to-retire Chief Superintendent Hodge won’t tell Mac whether the two incidents are linked.

One mile away, a Liverpool-Somali girl, Misha, staggers into a run-down bar, dazed and confused. The bar’s owner, a reformed petty 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.

At the hospital Mac encounters Una Farlowe, a Witness Protection Officer. Reticent at first, she tells McCartney that the butchered body was her asset. He is 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 surveillance as Hodge’s team slowly closed the net on the Rozakis’ inter-continental heroin trafficking organization. Hodge’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. Now Una faces dismissal for allowing their star witness to be identified – and killed.

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? Matters become even more delicate with the discovery that Kalan, a Shi’ite, was deeply involved with Misha, a Liverpool-Somali girl from a close-knit Sunni community. Is this where the hospitalized Danish Somali stabbing victim comes into it? Mac’s arrival in the U.K has been rubber-stamped by Europol – yet Hodge is reluctant to tell McCartney why. Whatever is happening here, whoever wanted Kalan dead has sent a horrific message in the manner of his slaughter.

The case becomes personal for Mac when Una reveals the involvement of Terence Connolly, a cold-eyed, silver-haired international drug trafficker whose career goes back to the 70s. Working without portfolio, Mac and Una’s investigation into Kalan’s murder peels back layer after layer of a decades- long dynasty of drug-related crime. Each revelation plunges Mac further back into the dark heart of an unsolved drug crime that weighs heavy on his soul – a crime that takes him back to Copenhagen, where a young police officer, DS Hatti Vinterberg was brutally assaulted in 1984 following an undercover drugs bust gone horribly wrong. McCartney wants to catch the Rozakis, now - but he wants Terry Connolly even more. 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.

Kalan’s girlfriend Misha is the sole witness to his slaying - but Misha has vanished without trace. Meanwhile a shipload of unadulterated heroin is sailing ever closer to the Port of Liverpool and the 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.



McCartney, a gifted and tenacious investigator, is a man weighed down by secrets. The Mac we encounter at first is taciturn and interior. Only as successive series reveal more and more of Mac’s back story will we come to fully understand the man presented to us at the outset. 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 the layers of its central conspiracy, it will also unveil 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 suppress.


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.


Hatti's Car

Hatti, 21, is a green but hugely ambitious Copenhagen street cop. And when a young Liverpool felon Lance “Lanky” Campion is released from jail in 1984, she is there, inconspicuous, to witness an older crimelord, Terence Connolly meeting him. But, instead of returning to Liverpool, Lanky takes Connolly to meet the Heresy gang of Hell’s Angels – who have recently taken over the drug trade in Christiania. Reporting back to her boss Lars Vestergaard, Hatti is surprised and excited when he asks her to go undercover. Hatti’s boldness and determination takes her closer and closer to Heresy and the Liverpool mafia, with disastrous consequences.


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 is a committed relationship at all – 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.


Evan “Shakespeare” Kavanagh is a reformed petty villain who moved to Liverpool from Trinidad in the 1970s. He now runs an immaculate yet little-used pub in Toxteth. His roots in the Toxteth community run deep and he has history with Mac going back 20 years. And when Misha comes crashing injured through his pub’s the front door one evening, he sees an opportunity to help someone in need and possibly even make amends for some of 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 a major 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 Hatti Vinterberg in Copenhagen, many years before. Finally on the verge of holding Terry Connolly to account for his crimes, Mac will stop at nothing to bring him in once and for all – drawing a line under one of the most difficult periods in his life.


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.


Vestergaard, 55, is a progressive, pioneering chief of Copenhagen police through the 80s. Although he takes a great interest in the resolute and ambitious rookie detective Hatti Vinterberg, his mentoring ultimately has devastating consequences for his young charge.


Madsen, 60, is a career cop who has seen it all and survived to tell the tale. World-weary and cynical, Madsen's career has been dogged by rumours he's been on the take, playing for both sides of the law. By virtue of his sheer doggedness and longevity he's survived the decades, with retirement now just months away. When he sends Mac to Liverpool to investigate a seemingly random attack on a Danish Somali, little does Jan realise the Pandora's box he's about to open.


Hodge started off as a progressive, liberal-thinking cop with the best of intentions. But policing a city as lawless and complex as Liverpool over the course of a lifetime has taken him to places and forced him into decisions he’d find hard to justify to a layman. Hodge has always believed that when it comes to policing, the ends justify the means. However, with the death of Kalan, his entire operation to bring down Connolly and the Rozakis is put on the line. Ultimately Hodge finds himself resorting to measures so desperate that they challenge even his own conventions of needs-must policing.


Kevin Sampson : IM Global TV : Red Union Films Ltd.

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