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“Operation Johnny English” Netflix Doccie on Madeleine McCann – Episode 8 Review & Analysis [Part 2 of 3]

Episode eight – the latter half of it at least – saves the best of the McCann twelve-year investigation for last. In the final episode we’re appraised of a giant leap forward in the lengthy and expensive search for Madeleine McCann. The Tannerman sighting was a mistake. Oh dear. But hold on. Making the mistake in the first place made complete sense!

Fullscreen capture 20190326 000236Fullscreen capture 20190326 000239Fullscreen capture 20190326 000244Fullscreen capture 20190326 000246Fullscreen capture 20190326 000251Fullscreen capture 20190326 000253Fullscreen capture 20190326 000255Fullscreen capture 20190326 000259Fullscreen capture 20190326 000303Fullscreen capture 20190326 000308Yes it was a case of mistaken identity. Dr. Julian Totman closely resembled Gerry McCann and in fact played tennis with him on the day Madeleine disappeared. His daughter went to the same creche as Madeleine as well.

Despite this enormous epiphany, another rather glaring aspect was that Dr. Totman couldn’t have been walking away from the McCanns’ apartment after 21:00 while carrying his sleeping daughter [as Jane Tanner claimed], because he had to walk across the road –  east – to the creche to collect her, and his own apartment was in the other direction, to the left or to the west of the McCann apartment [which is on the eaternmost side of the Ocean Club]. He had to have been walking the other way.

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So why is he sketched walking across the street while carrying his daughter to the right?

Curiously in a follow-up sketch, another Tannermannish character is brought into being and this one is walking the other way [in one’s imagination, not witnessed anywhere in particular], but alas he’s not carrying anyone. Shucks, I guess one can’t get everything right in these investigations, but one can sort of waggle it at the media anyway, right?


Is it mentioned anywhere in the documentary where Dr. Totman was staying in the hotel, and what his room number was relative to the McCanns. Nah. Pfft. Why would anyone want to start contextualising the crime scene, and re-enact where people were hypothetically? Why…well, it may have solved the Dr. Totman debacle in the first hours of the investigation, rather than after several years, that’s why.


Instead of heading into this area however, the docuseries dwells for a moment on the news that the artist’s sketch was actually accurate [just irrelevant] . This irrelevant accuracy is is oohed and aahed over, in effect justifying the cops and media and everyone else for wasting a fuckload of money and shitloads of time.

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And because it was a British father carrying a British child whose clothing came from Marks & Sparks, no wonder the cops on both sides of the channel concentrated on him for years, until the cows came home.

This puts into perspective the whinge that the cops arrived an hour or more late to the scene of the crime. Maybe the original investigative team wasted time. The follow-up investigation that was supposedly on the right track [not investigating the McCanns] wasted years on a bogus lead. But that’s not a big deal, the sketch at least was accurate.

We should also compare apples with apples. The man who the cops were looking for [the imputed abductor] turned out to be a father “abducting” his own child, and for years no one saw that. So why would it be so egregious to merely suppose one of the McCanns may have done the same thing?

Another aspect – which we’ll deal with in more detail in a moment – is why would you use an expert artist for the Tannerman and subsequent sketches, and then when you progressed to another suspect, supposedly the key sighting, why wouldn’t you use the same artist? Melissa Little, an FBI-accredited police artist specially hired by the McCanns had proved her worth in the past. Her first sketch had been accurate, so why choose another way of rendering your second, more crucial sighting? Worse still, why would you provide two different sketches of the same face? 


But it gets even shakier.

Even after Dr. Totman himself came forward and said HEY IT WAS ME, the cops dutifully continued to investigate him [the Tanner Sighting] regardless. When the Metropolitan police took over though, they immediately made great strides. Their great stride [and arguably only stride] was to conclude that Tannerman wasn’t credible. Instead of being a lead is was a MISLEAD, and the investigation had been misled.

By mistake of course, right? The enormous search, largest missing persons search hin history had been misled accidentally, not on purpose, right?

The Met cop said, you know this guy who said he was Tannerman was Tannerman. Maybe we need to exclude this sighting. And so they did. Incredible police work!


Ya think?

In episode eight we see that by excluding Tannerman, everything changes. Now the timeline shifts forward and we’re faced with a different and rather Irish kettle of fish.

I mentioned in the review of episode one that the timeline is covered in the docuseries in a voiceover that lasts about as long as it would take to read this paragraph. Now, with a few minutes remaining in the final episode, it’s time to “examine” the timeline again. In detail you understand.

When one looks at Operation Grange, or indeed the entire investigation into Madeleine’s abduction/disappearance, it’s difficult not to see the whole sad spiel as something other than a tragic comedy starring the Pink Panther as the recast Portuguese police [minus senhor Amaral] and Johnny English confidently leading operation Grange Bungle. As millions upon millions are spent in the fruitless search for Madeleine [using public money], an incredible amount of nothing happens. Could it be this suspect? How about that one? Oh wait, maybe it’s the Podesta brothers?

And the soundtrack to this shitshow? There is always hope.


  1. Ralph Oscar

    There was a night creche. In Yank terms, a nursery where people could leave their small children if they wanted to go out without them. These are staffed by people who are paid to watch over the children.

    Other doctors were leaving their children safely in the night creche while they were out to dinner. But not our McCanns. No, they chose to leave their three small children alone, unsupervised, asleep in an unlocked ground floor apartment for hours at night instead…

    • Laura Thompson

      I wonder why they didn’t just bring a nanny they trusted from home. (I don’t know that they employed a nanny or nannies, but I presume they did, with their careers, lifestyle, and income bracket.) It just seems like a thing that well to do British people just do. (American families do it, too.)

      I’ve been invited on road trips by friends of ours who had their little girl relatively late in life. They sometimes go out of town for various doctor appointments, and I go along and do fun things with the little girl, while they get their medical visits in. It’s not a formal nanny situation, and I do it for love, not money. But anyway, I’m not sure why the McCanns didn’t bring a nanny on vacation with them. All of this heartache might have been averted had they done so, or at least, lessened the chances of an accident or other.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “I’m not sure why the McCanns didn’t bring a nanny on vacation with them. All of this heartache might have been averted had they done so, or at least, lessened the chances of an accident or other.”

        Or just book reservations for their children at the night creche, where they would be supervised by staff from the resort.

        Both of these scenarios – nanny, night creche – presume that some terrible accident happened due to poor decisions on the parents’ part and do not apply if the parents were creating a coverup for something they themselves did, deliberately or accidentally. I’m not going to go so far as to say their *purpose* in planning this vacation was to get rid of Maddie, but they clearly did not take the obvious steps to make sure their children were safe and supervised during that vacation. Some might balk at the thought of bringing their own nanny along, because it’s extra plane tickets and paying for all that nanny time on top of the costs of going on the vacation and arranging a room for the nanny. I don’t believe any of the other parents brought along nannies – it was clearly uncommon enough that the resort offered day and night babysitting services onsite.

  2. Ralph Oscar

    That night creche detail hit me with an unexpected wave of sadness…

    • nickvdl

      There was also another creche right beside the Tapas Bar. On their first night in Luz the parents walked I think 0.8 miles to use the night creche and then basically decided afterwards, screw that, we’re not gonna use the night creche.

  3. lucky2 (@dexygerl)

    Unless there was blood or dead body/cadaver in that bedroom before McCanns vacation then one has to question their innocence, after seeing dogs and DNA evidence.

    • nickvdl

      Unless there was blood or dead body/cadaver in the rental car as well? Some coincidence that…

      • Ralph Oscar

        “We’re running our weekly special on corpse removal cars – we’ve got these three lovely models for you to choose from!”

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