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Who Killed Dr Bogle & Mrs Chandler?

Video clip synopsis – One of crime history's great unsolved cases - the mysterious deaths of Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler.
Year of production - 2006
Duration - 1min 46sec
Tags - Cold War, DIY Doco, documentary, war, see all tags


Who Killed Dr Bogle & Mrs Chandler?

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About the Video Clip


This video clip is an excerpt from the introduction of the film Who Killed Dr Bogle & Mrs Chandler?, a 55 minute documentary produced in 2006. Who Killed Dr Bogle & Mrs Chandler? is at last an answer to one of crime history’s great unsolved cases – the mysterious deaths of Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler.

A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Blackwattle Films. Produced in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Curriculum Focus



Students read and view texts that entertain, move, parody, investigate, analyse, argue and persuade. These texts may include documentaries that contain accessible but challenging issues that deal with local, national and international events. They explore personal, social, cultural and political issues of significance to the students’ own lives.

Students understand that readers and viewers may need to develop knowledge about particular events, issues and contexts to interpret texts.


When students write information or argument texts, they make appropriate selections of information from a few sources and attempt to synthesise and organise these in a logical way.

Students write imaginative texts in print and electronic mediums that contain personal, social and cultural ideas and issues related to their own lives and communities and their views of the expanding world.

These are extracts only. For further information please see the National Curriculum Statements for English.

Background Information


The mysterious and sensational deaths in Sydney of brilliant physicist, Dr Gilbert Bogle, and his lover, Mrs Margaret Chandler, early in 1963 came during the era called the Cold War, when it seemed the world was on the brink of nuclear war. In politically and socially conservative Australia, the deaths created a huge media and social scandal, for they indicated that the principal players in the drama had been living somewhat shocking ‘alternative’ lifestyles to the commonly accepted standards of moral behaviour.

The discovery of the bodies of Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler in bizarre circumstances on a Sydney riverbank in 1963, set into play an unprecedented forensic investigation.

Autopsies offered little clue as to how the couple died, only that there were signs of a rapidly acting poison. Despite assistance from the FBI and Scotland Yard, the poison was never identified. At the end of a long and controversial coronial inquest, no cause of death, killer or motive could be identified.

In the ensuing years, scores of tabloid theories have been put forward, from LSD to Cold War assassinations. But in the minds of many, including the police, Margaret Chandler’s husband, Geoffrey, was the likely culprit.

Four decades later, this explosive documentary reveals startling new evidence- evidence so powerful the police gave filmmaker Peter Butt access to their forensic records.

Classroom Activities

  1. Drama documentary
    Drama documentaries use actors, sets and props to recreate events based on eyewitness accounts, historical evidence or hearsay to bring a story to life. Who Killed Dr Bogle & Mrs Chandler? is a drama style documentary.
    1. View the video clip with the sound muted then write your narration of 200 words and suggest some music to be played underneath.
    2. Write a paragraph explaining your choices for narration and music.
    3. View the video clip with the sound then compare your narration and music to what is actually used in the film.
  2. Bizarre theories and ‘urban myths’
    When crimes and mysteries are not solved, often bizarre theories and/or ‘urban myths’ are offered. Sometimes people simply refuse to believe that something has happened.
    Choose one of the following headlines, or create one of your own, and write your own sensational 500-word article for the tabloid newspaper, ‘National News’
    1. Elvis seen in Australia.
    2. ‘I was kidnapped by aliens’. Gary Blackburn -farmer.
    3. There is poison in our milk!
  3. DIY Documentary
    Re-create a mystery that you know in a 3–5 minute drama documentary using whatever materials and people available. You will need to:
    1. write an introductory narration
    2. include short interviews with an ‘eye witness’ and ‘expert’
    3. write some scenes that you think may have happened
    4. provide a solution to your mystery.

Consider what other techniques you may use e.g. stills (photographs), music, types of shots etc.

Storyboard your documentary then stage a class Documentary festival and show all the films.

Access DIY DOCO for more information about making documentary films.

Further Resources


DIY DOCO for teachers – study notes

The Bogle and Chandler website

DIY DOCO – elements of documentary storytelling