Told from the perspective of the police officers and the victims, the series details the harrowing five-year search for the killer, who claimed the lives of 13 women and attempted to murder seven others.
Taking to Twitter, now X, viewers praised the gripping yet heartbreaking first episode, which focuses on Sutcliffe's first two victims, Wilma McCann and Emily Jackson, portrayed by Gemma Laurie and Katherine Kelly.
One person wrote: "Oh. #TheLongShadow is heart-rending. Beautifully written and acted. All too close to home," while another added: "Been looking forward to that for weeks and it didn't disappoint. ITV always gets gritty true crime bang on the money. Note-perfect cast, amazing script, beautifully directed."
Other viewers remarked on the star-studded cast and commended their performances, with one person writing: "Some of the best actors in Britain on show here. Daniel Mays, Toby Jones, Lee Ingleby, Katherine Kelly. Brilliant," while another tweeted: "#TheLongShadow what a great cast... doing such a tragic story justice."
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A third viewer hailed the cast as the "best" ensemble in an ITV drama in two decades, penning: "This may have the best cast for an ITV drama in nearly 20 years. To have two of them would be impressive but Toby Jones, Daniel Mays, David Morrissey, Katherine Kelly, Lee Ingleby and more to come is being spoilt. Good start."
Many also applauded the show's handling of a sensitive topic, with one person writing: "That entire first episode was handled really, really well. If nothing else the whole cast and crew should be applauded for that because it's not an easy subject matter #TheLongShadow."
A second tweeted: "That was a stunning opening episode. Such believable performances from Toby Jones, Katherine Kelly and Daniel Mays. It's a tough story to tell and a tough story to watch but it seems as though this is going to do it sensitively and with respect."
What is The Long Shadow about?
The Long Shadow depicts the manhunt for serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, who was dubbed in the press as the Yorkshire Ripper. It focuses on the lives of the victims who crossed paths with the murderer, as well as those of the police officers at the centre of the investigation.
"One murder has the power to cast a long shadow and this case plunged a whole society into darkness," the synopsis begins. "For every victim, there were friends and loved ones. For every police officer, there was the burden of failure - of near misses and guilt – and the knowledge that as they failed to find their man, more women continued to suffer.
"The impact on the lives of those who live on after the death of their loved one remains to this day. Those who cannot escape what happened, who must sit with their incomprehensible trauma for decades after, enduring their own life sentences."
It continues: "With people today holding to account the institutional foundations that foster misogyny, racism, and violence against women, The Long Shadow will speak to the societal issues of the past whilst highlighting alarming parallels between these terrible crimes and tragic events in our more recent history."
The Long Shadow continues on ITV on Monday 2 October at 9pm.