Gibson Group

Mistress, Mercy: The Renee Chignell Story


The Outline

Long before 50 Shades of…anything, New Zealand’s ‘teenage dominatrix’ was the centre of our own moral firestorm. Charged with the murder of cricket umpire Peter Plumley-Walker, Renee Chignell was barely out of the news for two years until she was finally acquitted after three High Court trials, an appeal, a trail of secret witnesses and discredited evidence. Through all of which Renee kept her silence, until now.

Our Role

Full production from concept to delivery; including post-production.

We Collaborated With

Television New Zealand, New Zealand On Air


The Details

In this big budget telefeature, Renee Chignell gives a first-hand account of what led to her short lived career in bondage and discipline, how her new client’s body was thrown into Huka Falls, and how unreliable evidence and undercover testimonies built case that she and her boyfriend murdered an old-school Englishman with a handlebar moustache. Based on an exclusive on-screen interview with Renee herself, the programme weaves scripted drama with archive footage and interviews, into an detailed exposé of the most sensational trial New Zealand had ever seen. Just 18 years old when she was charged with murder, Renee was tried three times in a headline-grabbing court battle that ran two-and-a-half-years from 1989 to 1991. The sensational case lit-up the living rooms of middle New Zealand with secret witnesses and courtroom theatrics that raised questions about police interrogation, and payments to jailhouse informants. By forcing people to look up ‘dominatrix’ in the dictionary, this case left an indelible imprint on the national psyche…

Screening on TVNZ1 during the showcase Sunday Theatre season, Mistress, Mercy: The Renee Chignell Story  followed the rating success our other stunning TVNZ docudrama Nancy Wake: The White Mouse 


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