In 1984 six Glasgow family members died in an arson attack. Their murders were followed by one of Scotland’s longest trials and a 20 year fight for justice that gripped the nation.

In the early 1980s, Glasgow is a tale of two cities. While its leaders encouraged residents and visitors to see Scotland’s biggest city as “Miles Better”, refreshed with trendy bars and restaurants, its housing schemes became a battleground in criminal warfare. Gangsters found themselves fighting over an unlikely commodity – ice cream vans and the lucrative routes to be found in each of the city’s sprawling new schemes, such as Easterhouse and Ruchazie, which housed thousands but gave them little access to shops, pubs or other facilities. With little alternative, ice cream vans thrived and evolved to sell a range of goods, making so much money that they attracted the attention of the city’s gangsters.

Competition was fierce and would escalate into violence, before becoming deadly on 16th April 1984. In the early hours of that morning a fire engulfed a top floor flat in Bankend Street, Ruchazie, a three bed apartment housing nine members of the same family. That family included Andrew Doyle, a young ice cream van driver who had received threats and intimidation in the months leading up to the fire.

Six members of the Doyle family, including Andrew, would not survive the impact of the fire. Their ages ranged from 53 years old to just 18 months. It was, in its time, the greatest mass murder in Scottish history and led to an inevitable demand from the media and public for the police to find and bring to justice the killers.

Featuring testimony from police officers, members of the ice cream business and reporters from the time, each with their own connection to the case, The Ice Cream Wars examines how Glasgow’s tough housing estates had developed into an environment where ice cream van routes had become prized possessions, before revealing the lengths some were prepared to go to in order to secure them.

Eyewitnesses describe events around the deadly fire which engulfed the Doyle family home and the days after, with the beginnings of the police investigation and a funeral which moved many across Scotland. Finally, the episode introduces Joe Steele, arrested in the aftermath but confident that he would be found innocent of any crime.

"Outstanding... it is hard to see any documentary doing a finer job than this one." THE HERALD
"BBC Scotland loves a good true crime documentary, and The Ice Cream Wars is certainly is one of those." THE COURIER
"Respectful... a sober, solid unpicking of the case itself and of its effects on those around it." THE GUARDIAN
"Any documentary stands or falls on the quality of the testimony, and the contributors here are first rate." THE HERALD
"Grim, shocking stuff." DAILY MAIL
**** [Four Stars] THE GUARDIAN
**** [Four Stars] THE HERALD


2 x one hour







Director & Producer

Robert Neill

Executive Producer

Mick McAvoy


Kate Dickie

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