All Killa No Filla podcast: 5 episodes to hear

Comedians Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean tour their very funny, shocking and sometimes moving All Killa No Filla podcast this spring. We asked them to share some of the bizarre stories they've uncovered

Feature by John Stansfield | 16 Mar 2017

The podcast landscape is littered with true crime and comedians tackling a subject, so it stands to reason that one should combine the two. That the result is brilliantly funny, informative, shocking and at times even touching is testament to the two comedians behind it. Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean’s All Killa No Filla podcast has slowly developed a cult following since it debuted in October 2014 when the pair bonded over their fascination with serial killers. As Fairburn notes at the opening of every show, "this isn’t hero worship, but if we’re doing this then at least we’re not writing to them in prison."

They put in enormous amounts of research for each (approximately) hour-long episode, because as Pritchard-McLean puts it, "when you’re talking about (usually) women that have been murdered it’s just a sign of respect to get their name right." They deal with each killer and their victims in a measured and sensitive fashion, with an easygoing conversational style that is very funny and makes you wish for more of the ‘filla’ and less of the ‘killa’.

With more than 30 episodes under their belt and now a live tour in the offing, we asked them about some of their ‘favourite’ murderers they have discussed.

Fred and Rose West

Years active: 1967-1987
Killings: 12-13+ (Kiri: "Oh there’s way more.")

Kiri and Rachel covered this husband and wife team of sadists, arguably Britain’s most notorious serial killers, over three gruelling hours for their ‘Christmas special’. Rachel admits she’s "had enough of them after the three-parter" even though she’s had a fascination with the Gloucester duo since the news reports emerged from the ‘house of horrors’ at Cromwell Street. "My teacher in top juniors made us write a diary of events from the weekend every Monday –"

"While her Berocca kicked in?" asks Kiri.

"—and it was all, ‘We went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach’ or ‘We went to my grandma’s for Sunday dinner,’ but this week she chose the Wests for us. The last sentence of my report was 'they even found one in the chimney,' and I’d drawn a picture. My mum’s still got the exercise book. And that sparked my interest in serial killers."

With an hour each dedicated to the young lives of Fred and Rose it’s hard not to develop some form of empathy; as Kiri notes, "Poor kids, low IQ, shitty background, not given any support, often abused sexually, mentally, physically. Lack of opportunities. You can throw loads of empathy at the path that’s brought them there, but when you lose empathy is when they make the decision. Loads of people have those shocking lives and don’t murder a bunch of people – and then blame it on women most of the time." 

Ivan Milat

Years active: 1989-1993
Killings: 7+

Anyone who's seen the film Wolf Creek may be familiar with Ivan Milat, and they'll certainly have been put off the idea of hitchhiking across the Australian outback. Though Kiri and Rachel have been through innumerable harrowing tales together for the podcast, there’s something about Milat and the ‘backpacker murders’ that really riles them.

"The side of the moon is the same size as Australia. What the fuck?!" says Kiri in disbelief.

"I find him fascinating because of the vastness of the outback," says Rachel. "The thought of somebody being on their own and, out of all the people to pick you up hitchhiking, he turns up. Some of the pictures of him are just ridiculously hilarious. He looks like he’s in a comedy sketch about a gay night club in the 80s." 

"He looks like he should be washing cars," Kiri puts in.

"Lying on the bonnet getting all soapy."

It’s the juxtaposition of this bizarre-looking Aussie and the brutality of his crimes that sticks, says Kiri. "He took his time because he was in the middle of bumblefuck nowhere."

Rachel: "It knocks me sick." Nothing more terrifying than a monster dressed as a clown.

Delphine LaLaurie

Years active: circa 1834
Killings: 4+

This episode is a curio for collectors, in that there was a live show on the subject but there were some problems with the recording. Not technical problems, of course: "The live show in Manchester we did on her was so libellous, mainly against [comedian redacted] that we couldn’t put it out. I just went off on one about super-injunctions," explains Kiri with a hearty laugh, before asking us to edit the name out – a running joke on the podcast where they are constantly promising to edit out things they’ve said while never seeming to.

Always keen to include a female serial killer to highlight the discrepancy between genders in murder, Kiri puts this New Orleans socialite in her top five. "Delphine LaLaurie is one of my absolute faves. Everyone goes on about how beautiful she was."

"Yeah, old-days beautiful. She looked like a spoon with a wig on," Rachel interjects, eliciting another huge roar of laughter from Kiri.

"Oh, them wigs! I can smell them just looking at the picture. They make me itch."

After being outed as a serial torturer and alleged murderer of her slaves, LaLaurie fled to Paris after being chased by an angry mob. "It’s all weird. The thing that really stuck is that everyone looted the house and it was boarded up and people said it was haunted and they could hear screams at night," says Kiri. "Years later, when it was being renovated, they pulled up the kitchen floorboards and there were more slaves under there who had been screaming ‘let us out’ and people were just like, ‘it’s ghosts.’ It’s all so sad. It sums up that period, the attitude towards slaves in that area."

Years later Nicolas Cage bought the house because of course he did.

H. H. Holmes

Years active: 1888-1894
Killings: 9-200

The story of American serial killer H. H. Holmes is so ridiculous that it’s a surprise it’s not the plot to some hacky horror film – although, as Kiri points out, "the rights have just been sold to Leonardo DiCaprio!"

H. H. Holmes operated in Chicago when the World’s Fair came to town, building a hotel that became known as the ‘Murder Castle’ where, Kiri explains, he would be "constantly sacking builders so no one would know the layout. Dead ends, staircases that went nowhere, doors that opened onto brick walls, rooms with no windows, chutes going down to a furnace."

"It sounds like something Fred West would have built," suggests Rachel.

"It was all about money,’ says Kiri of this pioneering capitalist killer, "and he realised he could sell the organs, sell the skeletons, claim the life insurance. A really detached way of looking at people as just a sum of money. Which is terrifying but fascinating."

Rachel wonders what might have been "if he put his mind to something that wasn’t murderous. He could have done something fantastic because he had a good work ethic, and he was always thinking but he was just greedy and a bit of a bastard."

When it all came tumbling down around him, though, he simply shaved his distinctive moustache and jumped the state’s border before eventually being arrested for horse rustling, "something really twee", as Rachel points out.

Dennis Rader aka BTK

Years active: 1974-1991
Killings: 10

Dubbed ‘The Alan Partridge of Serial Killers’ by Kiri and Rachel for his cringe-inducing self-regard, Dennis Rader spitballed his own nicknames with local newspaper The Wichita Eagle, including 'The Wichita Strangler' ("no alliteration," says Rachel, "he clearly doesn’t get it"), 'The Asphyxiater' and 'The BTK Killer' ('bind, torture, kill,' which the pair point out is a misnomer since he didn’t really ‘torture’ his victims, more "inconvenienced" them before their death). There’s also of course the redundancy of kill and killer in the same title. Ever so Partridge.

"He hid in women’s houses, stalking people. Finding everything out about somebody. He’s the creepiest, scariest, and to me so dangerous because he led a normal life," says Rachel. "He’s married, he’s got kids, he went to church. Which is always a warning sign for me."

In true Partridge style it was Rader’s hubris that was his undoing, when his beloved Eagle ran a story about the dreaded BTK some ten years after his killings had subsided and then posited that the reason he had stopped was because he was either dead or in prison. Rader couldn’t let it lie. He sent in a floppy disk with information on the killings, thinking it couldn’t be traced back to him: "The floppy disk was owned by the church that he was busying himself at. 'Last updated by Dennis'," explains Kiri. Oh Alan.

All Killa No Filla live: Wharf Chambers, Leeds, 29 Mar; The Stand, Glasgow, 2 Apr; 81 Renshaw, Liverpool, 6 Apr

Listen on iTunes here.