2 x 60'

Production company

True North

Year of production


Commissioning channels

Channel 5



Over two parts, this is the extraordinary story of how kidnapper, extortionist and murderer Michael Sams avoided a huge police operation to win … and then lose … a £175,000 ransom.

For eight months beginning in July 1991, police forces across the UK were involved in the hunt for a mysterious criminal who left a trail of kidnap, extortion and murder in his wake. His ability to second guess his pursuers and his extraordinary planning – what he would himself call his ‘Deadly Game’ – led to speculation that he was a former SAS soldier, or even worse, a disgruntled detective.

In reality he was a middle-aged, one legged, train spotting, toolmaker who had decided after a lifetime of being a nobody, that things were going to change.

This is the story of how Michael Sams almost succeeded in becoming the master criminal he dreamed of being when he outwitted a huge police operation to collect £175,000 from a lonely moorland track in Yorkshire. He then hid it somewhere he believed no-one else would ever find it.

For one group of detectives, recovering the cash was more than a matter of pride, it was key to putting Sams behind bars for the rest of his life …. Achieving that needed some remarkable detective work.

Aired on C5 as 'The Girl in the Box: The Kidnapping of Stephanie Slater'.

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Trailer: Ransom