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Deirdre Reynolds It's disheartening to see murdered Sophie reduced to the role of supporting character

"Murdered women have long since been used as the catalyst for the drama in everything from novels to stage plays and blockbuster movies"

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Sophie Toscan and her son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud in 1990

Sophie Toscan and her son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud in 1990

Sophie Toscan and her son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud in 1990

The final part of Jim Sheridan's Murder at the Cottage aired on Sky Crime on Sunday night.

Over the past two weeks, the long-awaited series has forensically pored over the unsolved murder of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home in West Cork in December 1996.

Yet it is the Oscar-nominated director of My Left Foot who seems to take centre stage in the documentary, already binge-watched by viewers worldwide on streaming service NOW, while a second documentary about the case, Sophie: A Murder in West Cork, premiered on Netflix on Wednesday.

From long-running cop drama Law & Order right up to recent Kate Winslet vehicle, Mare of Easttown, the so-called 'dead girl trope' is nothing new on our television screens.

Murdered women have long since been used as the catalyst for the drama in everything from novels to stage plays and blockbuster movies, with the true-crime genre responsible for presenting even more female corpses as primetime entertainment.

So it was especially disheartening to see Sophie reduced to the role of supporting character in the five-part series, five years in the making.

By now, even those born after the brutal murder near Toormore 25 years ago, will have read or heard the basics of the controversial case, from the bloodied concrete block to the missing gate.

Setting the scene in the cinematic show, Sheridan can be heard to describe how, a quarter of a century on, "the hills cry out for justice" for the 39-year-old in her beloved West Cork.

But where, exactly, was the fairness for Sophie promised by the title of the docu-series that felt, especially to many female viewers, more fixated on justice for Ian Bailey.

Over the course of almost five hours, for instance, what exactly did we learn about the elegant Parisian producer found among the briars in her nightshirt two days before Christmas?

Up to 50 hours of self-filmed footage was whittled down to give a fly-on-the-wall look into the day-to-day life of the self-professed prime suspect, and acknowledged woman-beater.

A bin spewing empty wine bottles, storage box stuffed with newspaper clippings by the former journalist and defiant Damien Dempsey background music all told their own tale.

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Sophie, meanwhile, remained defined by her gruesome death - in stomach-turning close-ups of her badly battered and bruised hands - and not her vibrant life.

What was her laugh like, what was her favourite movie, or her signature scent?

Do the men so often telling these gripping murder mysteries even care?

A rusty tin of loose-leaf tea and unshowy taupe coat treasured by her son Pierre-Louis Baudey all these years later at the remote cottage - shown briefly in archival footage after the grieving family pulled out of the documentary over its take on Bailey - spoke more of his mother's four short decades than all the evocative voiceover and exclusive interviews combined.

Sheridan's pledge to get justice for Sophie is in no doubt after he brought new evidence uncovered by his exhaustive research to Gardaí in Bantry.

But her memory - and that of other female victims at the heart of such documentaries - must not be allowed to be overshadowed by famous men or, worse, infamous men.

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