Whitechapel series 3 with Rupert Penry-Jones PREVIEW

Phil Davis, Rupert Penry-Jones and Steve Pemberton. Pics: ITV

Rating ★★★

ITV1, from Monday, 30 January, 9pm

Story: When four people are slaughtered at night at a fortified tailor’s workshop, the East End is gripped with fear and panic at this seemingly impossible and gruesome crime.

Gothic cop show Whitechapel is now haunted by the ghosts of series past, having already featured the most notorious East End killers of Jack the Ripper and the Krays in series one and two.

‘So what’s this one then?’ says the ghoulish amateur criminologist Edward Buchan. ‘Dr Crippen?’

No, not Crippen, who did not operate within the sound of Bow Bells. Instead, the series is overstretching its unlikely but previously popular premise by unearthing the little-known Ratcliffe Highway Murders, committed near Wapping 200 years ago.

Steve Pemberton as Buchan

Legendary bogeymen
Putting aside the daftness of detectives who only ever chase copycat killers recreating notorious historical crimes, Whitechapel now throws in everything from Charles Manson to flashes of a man apparently scrambling fly-like on a ceiling to inject some chills and mystery.

While Rupert Penry-Jones, Phil Davis and Steve Pemberton are back holding the fright-fest together, the show’s straining to evoke legendary bogeymen with ever more convoluted hysteria in this opening story, the first of three two-part mysteries.

Murder obsessive  Buchan – played with relish by Pemberton – is in horror heaven when DI Chandler (Penry-Jones) puts him in charge of the Met’s centuries old archive of past cases. The theme of these new stories is that Buchan, Chandler and DS Miles (Davis) can use the historical crimes to solve similar modern-day ones.

‘I saw the devil walking in Whitechapel’
So when four people are murdered in a fortress-like tailor’s premises, Buchan in the basement of the nick (actually Hornsey Town Hall) recalls the Ratcliffe Highway killings. He can also reel off the inadequacies of the Bow Street Runners and the suicide of suspect John Williams (buried on the junction of Commercial Road and Cannon Street Road with a stake through his heart), while working in theories about modern American killers Charles Manson and Richard Farley.

Rupert Penry-Jones as DI Chandler

Writers Caroline Ip and Ben Court still have fun with the horrid history – autopsies carried out in pubs et cetera – and also try to humanise lonely, fastidious Chandler and Miles, whose wife is ill, but the formula is really giving up the ghost this time.

A prisoner escaping from a sealed cell, the phantom on the ceiling, the instant East End hysteria and talk of devils walking the street. It’s too fanciful and confusing to be much more terrifying than a Halloween costume.

Thames Torso Mysteries
The next instalment invokes the Thames Torso Mysteries of 1887-89, and serial killers Mary Ann Cotton, Mary Wilson, the Lonely Hearts Killers, HH Holmes, and even the Marquis de Sade, while story three somehow references the Zodiac Killer, the 1940s US murderer known as The Phantom, Mutsuo Toi…

That’s quite enough. Too many crooks have spoiled the shock.

Cast: Rupert Penry-Jones DI Joseph Chandler, Phil Davis DS Ray Miles, Steve Pemberton Edward Buchan, Ben Bishop DC Finley Mansell, Sam Stockman DC Emerson Kent, Claire Rushbrook Dr Llewellyn, Hannah Walters DC Megan Riley

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  1. Have any info on new show, Ripper Street?

  2. Hi Thomas,

    Here’s the BBC press release…

    Tiger Aspect Productions and co-producer Lookout Point have been commissioned by Danny Cohen, Controller BBC One and Ben Stephenson, Controller Drama Commissioning, to make 8-part drama series, Ripper Street for BBC One.

    Created by writer Richard Warlow (Mistresses, Waking The Dead), Ripper Street is an extraordinary new drama set in the East End of London in 1889, during the aftermath of the “Ripper” murders. The action centres around the notorious H Division – the police precinct from hell – which is charged with keeping order in the chaotic streets of Whitechapel.

    Ripper Street explores the lives of characters trying to recover from the Ripper’s legacy, from crimes that have not only irretrievably altered their lives, but the very fabric of their city. At the drama’s heart our detectives try to bring a little light into the dark world they inhabit.

    Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC One, says: “Ripper Street is a gripping new drama for BBC One. Set against the backdrop of a fevered historical London, I believe it has the quality and intensity to be a hit with BBC One viewers.”

    Ripper Street will be executive produced for Tiger Aspect by Will Gould and Head of Drama Greg Brenman and for Lookout Point by Simon Vaughan (Parade’s End, Titanic). Polly Hill will executive produce for the BBC. Shooting commences in spring 2012.

    Greg Brenman says: “We are so excited about Ripper Street and believe that Richard Warlow is creating a period show that respects its moment in history whilst also achieving a thoroughly modern, entertaining and visceral piece of entertainment.”

    Simon Vaughan adds: “The Ripper case was the first ever mass-media man hunt and is known literally all over the world. We are producing a British drama with global ambitions and we are already having conversations with a number of US and international broadcasters who recognise the in built branding of the title.”

  3. Anonymous says:

    Will they ever establish Chandler as actually gay? It’s the only thing holding my interest at this point because it would be awesome.

  4. That would explain a lot and certainly be a great twist.

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