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Jack the Ripper drama stalks Whitechapel again—120 years on

PUBLISHED: 19:39 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 14:00 05 October 2010

Same cobblestones on the streets of Whitechapel

Same cobblestones on the streets of Whitechapel

THE 1888 Whitechapel Murders of Jack the Ripper are being re-examined in a new TV drama from Monday. Spooks star Rupert Penry-Jones appears in the in the three-part ITV series about an investigation into a modern-day Ripper-style spate of murders in London’s East End

By Victoria Huntley

THE 1888 Whitechapel Murders of Jack the Ripper are being re-examined in a new TV drama from Monday.

Spooks star Rupert Penry-Jones appears in the three-part ITV series about an investigation into a modern-day Ripper-style spate of murders in London’s East End.

Whitechapel follows Penry-Jones’ character Det Ins Joseph Chandler on a series of bloody, tragic and impossible crimes which suggest someone is carrying out copycat murders 120 years after.

The modern-day Ripper’ manages to recreate the slaughter with alarming accuracy while mirroring the red herrings connected to the original case, despite modern advances in crime detection.

Chandler is helped in his manhunt by Det Sgt Ray Miles, played by Phil Davis, and Ripperologist Edward Buchan, played by League of Gentlemen’s Steve Pemberton.

“You can’t get very close to many of the original murder scenes,” Penry-Jones reveals.

“But what was strange was while we were filming the big scenes, we would see the actual Ripper tours walking past the sights. It was a bit surreal.”

Much of the filming was done in Whitechapel, with some of the action at Wilton’s Music Hall in Grace’s Alley, the world’s only surviving 19th century music hall.

Pemberton got caught up in the atmosphere of the area during the filming.

He recalled: “When you look down some of these shadowy, damp and dingy alleys that look as though they haven’t changed since Jack the Ripper’s day, you can understand just how these murders took place in the capital. You start to get a picture of what it must have been like.”

The drama is a modern police force fighting an old adversary, say ITV publicists.

Producer Marcus Wilson was fascinated by the history of Whitechapel when he came to the East End to scout out locations.

“Filming in the East End was visually fabulous,” he recalls. “It lent a real atmosphere and authenticity to the piece.

“London is amazing at street level. Everything feels modern, but if you look up past the neon hoardings, you see the history of the city in the buildings. Get up high and look down and there are still cobble-stones everywhere.”

Some of the cobble-stones at the murder sites, he was told, are the same ones Jack the Ripper must have walked on in 1888.


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