Prey 2, ITV, Philip Glenister


Backs against the wall: Philip Glenister and MyAnna Buring

An adrenalin-fuelled chase story with thrills, cliffhangers and good characters

★★★★ ITV, Wednesday, 9 December, 9pm

PREY IS ON THE run again – this time with a new cast and storyline. If you suffer from palpitations, it’s probably best to give it a miss.

We’re immediately pitched into a mad night-time dash through the countryside, with Philip Glenister handcuffed to MyAnna Burning pursued by police and slavering dogs.

It’s a modern take on Alfred Hitchcock’s chase thrillers such as The 39 Steps and North by Northwest. The difference here being that there is no hint of romance between Glenister’s prison officer David Murdoch and Buring’s prisoner, Jules Hope.

It is while Murdoch is escorting Hope to the hospital that he discovers her brother has kidnapped his pregnant daughter, Lucy (Sammy Winward), and is holding her hostage until Murdoch can deliver Jules to him.


In the dark: DS Susan Reinhardt (Rosie Cavaliero)

Hot on their heels is DS Susan Reinhardt, who is under pressure in her personal and professional lives, and played beautifully by Rosie Cavaliero. Reinhardt was in the first series of Prey, which also starred John Simm. This time she has a new boss – DCI Mike Ward (Ralph Ineson) – to contend with while also finding herself torn between a marriage proposal and career move.

Philip Glenister as Murdoch

And this is what makes Prey 2 such an effective thriller. While writer and creator Chris Lunt rarely lets the pace drop, he also doesn’t neglect to develop the characters so that we actually care about their plights.

Murdoch is a widower, an average bloke who is rehearsing for an amateur musical production in his spare time. When Lucy is snatched he is thrust into a nightmare and faces the painful dilemma of whether to tell the police or go on the run.

This three-parter is packed with good performances and finishes on a real cliffhanger. Viewers who get that far will probably find it impossible not to hunt down the second instalment.

Ripper Street 3, Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn

Whitechapel series 3

East Enders – Jackson, Long Susan, Reid and Drake

The crime-fighters of Victorian Whitechapel return with a new spectacular series

★★★ BBC1, Friday, 31 July, 9pm

STAR TREK and Cagney and Lacey were both among those shows axed by TV honchos only to be resurrected after fan pressure. Both vindicated their reprieves and went on to huge success.

Ripper Street 3, Capt Jackson

Gung-ho Jackson to the rescue

Ripper Street is unlikely to enjoy such admired longevity. It’s lurid and as believable as a graphic novel. with its theme-park depiction of Jack the Ripper’s London.

But back it is, so a hardcore of devotees will be delighted that their favourite is the first UK show to be revived by a streaming service, in this case Amazon Prime Video (which originally showed the series to its UK subscribers last autumn). In addition, Amazon Prime has already ordered series four and five for future production and seem to have pumped more money into this fairly lavish eight-part instalment.

Train disaster for Reid to investigate

The opener, Whitechapel Terminus, features a spectacular head-on train smash, with the carriages and mutilated

Ripper Street series 3 in production

Behind the scenes of Ripper Street

bodies raining down on Leman Street. This all picks up four years after the previous series, which finished with Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and the American surgeon Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) at loggerheads and Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) broken in grief.

Here they are pulled back together in the search for the “general” behind the rail calamity. Robbery was the motive and before the episode’s end, Reid already has his suspicions about who may have been behind it. [Read more…]

Ripper Street 3 premieres on Amazon Prime, November 14

Ripper Street is dead. Long live Ripper Street.

The lurid Victorian crime drama axed by the Beeb will return for a third series on 14 November, following the deal done with subscription streaming channel Amazon Prime Instant Video. New episodes will be released on the service every Friday.

This was a classic case of a show’s fans petitioning for a cherished series to be saved, all of which became possible because Amazon is one of the subscription services that is hungry for exclusive content and has the money to throw at it. They are also promising an extended length ‘Amazon cut’ of exclusive content that won’t appear on the BBC’s version.

Check out the trailer above and it’s clear the series will be as action and violence packed as ever. The original cast has also been reassembled, including Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and MyAnna Buring.

It will be interesting to see whether Amazon has injected more money and higher production values into its adopted baby. Will newcomers such as Amazon and Netflix give a fresh lease of life to more series in future over which the traditional networks have got cold feet?

Link: Ripper returns to Amazon Prime Instant Video

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Ripper Street 2, with Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg, PREVIEW

Bennet Drake (JEROME FLYNN), Edmund Reid (MATTHEW MACFADYEN), Captain Jackson (ADAM ROTHENBERG)
The Victorian crimebusters are back – Drake, Reid and Jackson. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC1: starts Monday, 28 October, 9pm  

Story: A sergeant from neighbouring K Division is hurled from a Whitechapel tenement window onto railings below, and inspector Reid and his team’s investigation takes them to the emerging Chinatown of Limehouse dockside.

SOMEONE AT THE BEEB must love Ripper Street. The first series only finished in February, and it’s already been recommissioned, written, made and rescheduled.

It’s a decent action show, lite on the history and often light-hearted in its approach. But why the fast

Long Susan (MYANNA BURING) in Ripper Street
Long Susan


Audiences of seven million did the trick. Ripper Street was recommissioned before it had even finished its first run and it was originally slated to come back in 2014, but it’s been rushed into the schedules way ahead of that slot.

Chinatown and the Elephant Man

It’s hard to believe audiences are gripped by the period setting, which is an unconvincing display of modern folk in fancy dress. The series has an annoying habit of nodding to the future, so that Inspector Reid is lumbered with chunks of expositional dialogue explaining, in this opener for instance, the historical context of emerging Chinatown.

‘Knock yourself out,’ says Capt Jackson, using a phrase that became current in the 1990s. Or there are knowing winks to the future – ‘Sgt, opium is not yet contraband.’ But we know it will be.

The Elephant Man even pops up here, thrown into the action to spice things up.

Bennet Drake (JEROME FLYNN) in Ripper Street
Clubbable man – Drake

Punch-ups and action are Ripper Street’s specialities

In terms of historical intrigue, Peaky Blinders is far more interesting. The post-First World War gangster drama is fascinated by its period and is interested in getting under the skin of its time.

Ripper Street really comes into its own as a straightforward costume actioner. Adam Rothenberg is back as the wisecracking American medical man, and Jerome Flynn as punch-up merchant Sgt Drake looks as though he may have genuinely stepped out of Queen Victoria’s London.

Matthew Macfadyen’s Inspector Reid tries to give proceedings some gravitas, but really Ripper Street just wants to get on with the chases and fisticuffs.

Joseph Mawle as Insp Shine

The series opener, Pure as the Driven, starts with a sergeant being flung from a first-floor window, followed by a larky mass punch-up in the cells at Whitechapel nick. And as the investigation centres on Chinatown, the episode has the added attraction of a martial arts fighter – a totally unheard of phenomenon for Drake and Reid.

Drake thinks he can take on Wong King-Fai and his exotic fighting skills. Forget it, Drake, it’s Chinatown.

The lads realise there’s some new narcotic from the East that is about to flood the streets of the East

Wong King-Fai (AARON LY), Blush Pang (KUNJUE LI) in Ripper Street
It’s Chinatown – Wong King-Fai and Blush Pang

End, which has resulted in a couple of murders. They come up against a dodgy inspector from neighbouring Limehouse, who argues there is a turf war between Triad gangs – but Reid realises that Insp Shine (Joseph Mawle) is more involved than he’s letting on.

Episode one ends on a nice cliffhanger, setting up a terrific turf battle between the inspectors for coming weeks. As a window on the past, Ripper Street is a convincing as a penny dreadful, but as a ripping yarn, it’s knockabout fun.

Cast: Matthew Macfadyen Insp Edmund Reid, Adam Rothenberg Capt Homer Jackson, Jerome Flynn Sgt Bennet Drake, MyAnna Buring Long Susan, Charlene McKenna Rose, Damien Molony Sgt Albert Flight, Joseph Mawle Insp Jedediah Shine, Frank Harper Silas Duggan, Gillian Saker Bella Drake, Clive Russell Chief Insp Frederick Abberline

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Ripper Street BBC1 with Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, MyAnna Buring PREVIEW

Shadow of the Ripper – Jackson (Adam Rothenberg), Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and Drake (Jerome Flynn). Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½ 

BBC1: Sunday, 30 December, 9pm 

Story: Between the factories, rookeries, chop shops and pubs of Whitechapel, Inspector Edmund Reid is trying to move police work on from the horrors of the recent Jack the Ripper killings. However, one of the first cases he encounters looks like another Ripper outrage…

Jack the Ripper, the pin-up boy among serial killers, has been done to death (so to speak) by movies, documentaries, TV dramas, fiction and non-fiction books.

Rose gets caught in the killer’s net

So much so that these days any new take on his infamous legend tends to skate round his presence, with ITV1’s Whitechapel transporting his spirit to the modern East End, and now Ripper Street taking us back to H Division in the period just after his murder spree mysteriously halted.

The action begins six months after the horrors, when the hysteria around them can still ignite mob mayhem. So when someone shouts, ‘They’ve found a tart, inspector – she’s been ripped,’ a rabble descends on the alleyway crime scene and Inspector Reid has his work cut out preserving the evidence.

Ripper hysteria whipped up by the press
Reid, played by Matthew Macfadyen, is a new sort of officer, trying to make up for the past failures of sloppy coppering by taking a more scientific approach to crime solving. His new-fangled ideas are little understood by diehards such as his predecessor, Frederick Abberline – a character based on the real chief inspector who investigated the Ripper killings.

Reid investigates the alleyway murder

Reid also has to battle the press, particularly the reporter Fred Best, who scrawls ‘Down on Whores’ in the alley to stir up further Ripper hysteria to flog papers.

It’s a bustling start to this new eight-part series, which is nevertheless a bit clunky in getting across just how wide-eyed the Victorians were at the wonders of the age – characters speaking in awe about every mod con around them, from underground steam trains to moving pictures and the porn industry.

MyAnna Buring as Long Susan

Pornographic pictures
When it turns out that the victim, Maude Thwaite, had been posing in naughty photographs after her middle-class husband fell on hard times, Reid and his assistants, Sergeant Drake (Jerome Flynn) and an American surgeon called Jackson (Adam Rothenberg), are drawn into the burgeoning pornographic industry. Together, the team proves Reid’s theory that Maude was not a victim chanced upon by the Ripper.

The drama is split between a fascination with the murky Victorian world of bare-knuckle fighting and lawless streets, and highlighting emerging new developments that are familiar in today’s world, such as forensics, movies and pathology.

Much of the action is brutal in this opener and the crime is disturbing – and perhaps a bit too modern for the Victorian age. Another niggle was characters using the odd phrase that seemed ahead of its time – I don’t think Jackson would say, ‘Show and tell, Susan.’

Reid is tormented by a past mistake
The success of the series will depend on how well the period is re-imagined and depicted – and whether the characters flourish.

Here, episode one looked promising. We got a glimpse of Reid’s strained home life with his wife and picked up on the fact that he is haunted by some past mistake. There is also tension between Drake, Reid’s pitbull, and the libertine Jackson, who is apparently a former Pinkerton in the US but has some dodgy past with the madam, Long Susan (MyAnna Buring).

Ripper Street has a decent stab (apologies) at transporting the police procedural back to the early days of modern coppering. And while it won’t reveal who the psycho was, of course, it’s clear that even without Jack, Whitechapel circa 1889 was still a pretty terrifying place.

Cast: Matthew Macfadyen Inspector Edmund Reid, Jerome Flynn Sergeant Bennet Drake, Adam Rothenberg Captain Homer Jackson, MyAnna Buring Long Susan, Amanda Hale Emily Reid, Lucy Cohu Deborah Goren, Charlene McKenna Rose, Jonathan Barnwell Constable Dick Hobbs, David Wilmot Sergeant Donald Artherton, David Dawson Fred BestClive Russell Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline

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Read on: Metropolitan Police sit on Jack the Ripper

The Poison Tree ITV1 with MyAnna Buring, Matthew Goode PREVIEW

Nowhere to hide? MyAnna Buring as Karen in The Poison Tree. Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★½ 

ITV1: starts Monday, 10 December, 9pm 

Story: Karen Clarke has spent 12 years waiting for her partner, Rex, to be released from prison. Now he is free, she is looking forward to settling down to normal family life – but suddenly she feels she is being stalked…

Based on a novel by Erin Kelly (which was highly praised by Stephen King), The Poison Tree is a two-part family thriller revolving around buried secrets gradually being forced to the surface.

Karen and Biba

Karen and her teenage daughter, Alice, greet Rex on his release from prison after he’s done 12 years inside. She’s looking forward to starting a new family life with her partner, determined that they should keep from Alice the secret of their past and the events leading to Rex’s imprisonment.

Karen also covers for Rex’s absence by telling the neighbours near their small seaside bungalow that he’s been away working.

Partying, drugs and an unhappy childhood
Through a series of flashbacks we get clues to the momentous, secret events that forged Karen and Rex’s relationship. Karen actually met Rex’s damaged sister Biba first, when she and Rex were living a hedonistic life in their own grand house.

At the time, 1999, Karen was a mousey languages student, while Biba was a flamboyant art student. However, behind the partying and drugs lay an unhappy childhood for the siblings, with their rich businessman dad, Max, being unfaithful to his wife, who was suicidal over his antics.

As Karen comes on the scene, events come to a murderous climax, though as episode one finishes we are still not sure how Rex ends up in jail. What is clear, is that his release is not the new start Karen hopes for.

Released from prison – Rex

Creepy seaside setting
There are the silent phone calls, anonymous texts and the feeling that someone is watching their remote bungalow. Karen is unwilling to tell Rex about this, and it becomes clear she has deeper secret that she is withholding from Rex.

The Poison Tree is adapted for ITV by Emilia di Girolamo, who’s written some gripping episodes of Law & Order: UK, and it’s a solid enough thriller. The beachside setting is isolated and made menacing by director Marek Losey.

The two episodes are just about enough time to build up the characters and keep us interested in finding out whether Rex really was the murderer and what went down in 1999…

Cast: MyAnna Buring Karen Clarke, Matthew Goode Rex, Hebe Johnson Alice, Ophelia Lovibond Biba, with Patrick Baladi, Ralph Brown, Lex Shrapnel, Neil McKinven

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Blackout starring Christopher Eccleston, Dervla Kirwan

Hitchcockian assassination scene from Blackout. Pics:BBC

Rating: ★★★★

Channel: BBC1, starts Monday, 2 July, 9pm

Story: Corrupt council official Daniel Demoys’ life is spiralling out of control. He’s an alcoholic, his wife has had enough of his lifestyle, and he finds himself in an alleyway with the businessman who is bribing him when his life takes a violent turn.

Blackout is a bold bit of TV noir. It’s hard to look away from the car-crash life of local politician Daniel Demoys, played without vanity by Christopher Eccleston, as he descends into out-of-control alcoholism, corruption and family destruction.

It takes place in dark alleys and rainswept streets in classic pulp-fiction mode, and begins with a Hitchcockian bit of silent storytelling, a montage that sets the scene nicely, with Demoys stealing council documents that he will sell to a local businessman before turning up late for his daughter’s school dance performance – drunk.

Nightclubbing: Sylvie (MyAnna Buring) and Daniel (Christopher Eccleston)

Waking up as a potential murderer
The blackout of the title is the drunken loss of awareness Daniel suffers later that night. After a bit of corridor sex in a club with a blonde he’s met, Sylvie, he hands over the documents to Pulis in a back alley. The businessman taunts Daniel, things turn violent, and in the morning Daniel wakes from his stupor realising he may have committed murder.

Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent

His wife, Alex ( Dervla Kirwan), is sick of Daniel, his son is scared of him, he is disgusted with himself.

‘Show me a way out of this hell,’ he says, as his life takes a twist when he recklessly stops a bullet for a young man campaigning against gang violence. Director Tom Green again pays homage to the Master of Suspense by shadowing the famous assassination scene amid an array of umbrellas from Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent.

Dervla Kirwan is Alex

Bullet-stopping Daniel Demoys
Suddenly, Daniel has a heroic profile and is encouraged to run for mayor, to turn his life round and reignite his youthful dreams of making a difference to society. Will he make amends for the damage he has caused, or will his past catch up and destroy him?

Blackout is a sharp and compelling psychological thriller, with a first-class cast, including the electric Andrew Scott (Moriarty in Sherlock) as a slightly unhinged cop and menacing ex of Sylvie’s, Lyndsey Marshal as Daniel’s sister, and Ewen Bremner as his election agent. That’s in addition to a star turn from Christopher Eccleston as the sweaty, red-eyed, dishevelled Daniel.

Cast: Christopher Eccleston Daniel Demoys, Dervla Kirwan Alex Demoys, Ewen Bremner Jerry Durrans, MyAnna Buring Sylvie, Branka Katic Donna, Andrew Scott Dalien Bevan, David Hayman Henry Pulis, Rebecca Callard Ruth Pulis, Lyndsey Marshal Lucy Demoys, Olivia Cooke Meg Demoys,  Danny Sapani Detective Griffin

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