New podcast investigates unsolved murder of gay police officer in Northern Ireland

The podcast Blood on the Dance Floor examines gay life in Belfast in the 80s and 90s, centering around the unsolved murder of gay police officer Darren Bradshaw. 

unsolved murder victim Darren Bradshaw.
Image: @Hannyhas (via Twitter)

The new BBC podcast Blood on the Dance Floor is about the “untold story of the murder of a gay police officer in Northern Ireland in 1997”.  It tells the story of Darren Bradshaw, a gay police officer who was shot dead at only 24 years old by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

Wanting to bring attention to the unsolved murder of a gay man, the podcast aims to “piece together for the first time how Darren was killed that night and why”, as well as uncover “stories of bigotry, bravery and betrayal”.

Travelling back in time, presenter Jordan Dunbar takes a closer look at Belfast, the city he grew up in. It is where he performed as both comedian and drag queen and where, in 1997, the murder of Darren Bradshaw took place.


Noting that the life and death of Darren Bradshaw were “never talked about” in his social circle, the presenter sets the scene for the podcast in “not just any part of Belfast, but gay Belfast [of 1997]. A place you’ve probably never heard of before”. It is in the Parliament, Belfast’s only openly gay bar at the time, that Darren Bradshaw, off duty and enjoying his night out, is shot dead in front of hundreds of people. 

Taking into account that “Darren’s Belfast and my Belfast are not the same, not just for LGBT people but for everybody”, Dunbar shares that he started “to get angry, angry at the sense of unfairness that Darren died on the cusp of all this change.” The presenter paints the picture of a Belfast that is on the road to the Good Friday agreement and fears the return of violence after a brutal murder.

The show gradually builds the world in which this crime could have taken place and explains how its echoes still can be found today, as no one was ever been charged with the murder. Over the span of six episodes the host talks to drag queens of the Belfast scene, disco pioneers and DJs, who fought to reclaim their scene, and Games of Thrones star Kristian Nairn, who witnessed the shooting. 

Next to the unsolved murder, the podcast also addresses how gay life in the 80s and 90s looked like in Belfast. From showing news clips on how homosexuality was legal but not truly accepted, to talking about the double lives many were forced to lead some lighter content can be found in the funny anecdotes from the LGBTQ+ clubbing scene that are told. 


The podcast can be found on BBC Sounds and Radio 5

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