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Sunday, 15 April 2012

Whitechapel (2009) 3 part TV drama

I didn't catch this three part TV series when it aired, but I had intended to catch up on it because it dealt with the Jack the Ripper murders, a subject that has always fascinated me and formed the basis for my novel, A Policeman's Lot.

This show though is  quite unique because it takes the ripper story and places it in a contemporary setting - something which I think has never been done before.

Basically we've got a copycat killer who is recreating the Ripper killings in present day London. A premise that could have run thin immediately but the main driving force of the story are the well realised characters. Steve Pemberton as the slightly creepy Ripperologist who becomes involved in the the police investigation is a particular stand out - if ever there was a character that begs for his own series it is this one.

Creepy Ripperologist bloke
The two leads are Rupert Penry Jones and Phil Davies as the posh Detective Inspector Chandler and Sergeant Miles respectively. At the start of the drama Miles has no respect for Chandler who he sees as nothing more than a pen pusher, but as the story progresses the two learn to respect each other and a buddy relationship forms with Buchan, our odd Ripperologist acting as an unofficial police expert. Of course before Buchan can reach this status he is himself arrested for the new Ripper murders and thrown in a cell.

The climax was clever in that it allowed us to both have our cake and eat it as the Ripper was both seen but allowed to remain unidentified and vanish into nowhere to become a legend as time goes on. The show does though identify the original Ripper, or at least who they think was the original Ripper, and it is builder George Bartlett who may have been the last man to see Mary Kelly alive. Our modern day Ripper commits suicide after being allowed to escape.

My own piece of creepy Ripperology. Click Image
Part of Bartlett's police statement following the actual Mary Kelly murder read: On Thursday last I had been to Romford, in Essex, and I returned from there about two o'clock on Friday morning, having walked all the way. I came down Whitechapel road into Commercial street. As I passed Thrawl street I passed a man standing at the corner of the street, and as I went towards Flower and Dean street I met the woman Kelly, whom I knew very well, having been in her company a number of times. She said, "Mr. Hutchinson, can you lend me sixpence?" I said, "I cannot, as I am spent out going down to Romford." She then walked on towards Thrawl street, saying, "I must go and look for some money." The man who was standing at the corner of Thrawl street then came towards her and put his hand on her shoulder, and said something to her which I did not hear, and they both burst out laughing. He put his hand again on her shoulder and they both walked slowly towards me. I walked on to the corner of Fashion street, near the public house. As they came by me his arm was still on her shoulder. He had a soft felt hat on, and this was drawn down somewhat over his eyes. I put down my head to look him in the face, and he turned and looked at me very sternly, and they walked across the road to Dorset street. I followed them across and stood at the corner of Dorset street. They stood at the corner of Miller's court for about three minutes. Kelly spoke to the man in a loud voice, saying, "I have lost my handkerchief." He pulled a red handkerchief out of his pocket, and gave it to Kelly, and they both went up the court together. 

There were another two series made of Whitechapel and after this one I'll definitely be seeking them out.

Well researched, glossy, modern, excellently written and acted - a must see in fact

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