Whitechapel is a British crime drama television series written by Ben Court and Caroline Ip and produced by Carnival Films which is a modern take on the detective genre combining the Victorian intrigue of the original case with the atmospheric backdrop of a contemporary East End of London.
The series premiered in the UK on ITV on 2 February, 2009.
Whitechapel premiered in South Africa on DStv's BBC Entertainment channel on Monday 22 June 2009, at 20h30. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.
Season 1 aired on BBC Entertainment from Monday 22 June to Wednesday 24 June, 2009, daily at 20h30. There are three episodes in the first season.
Set against the contrasting facades of Whitechapel, London, a series of bloody, tragic and impossible crimes suggest someone is carrying out copycat Jack the Ripper murders 120 years after the killer first struck.
In a city under the constant surveillance of CCTV and safe in the knowledge that DNA evidence helps catch even the most dangerous criminal, this modern day Ripper still manages to recreate the slaughter with alarming accuracy while mirroring the red herrings and twisted idiosyncrasies connected to the original case.
The murders are investigated by three unlikely heroes: Joseph Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones), a fast-tracked, media savvy DI on his first big murder case; Ray Miles (Philip Davis), a front-line, hard-bitten DS, nearing retirement, now saddled with a boss who would rather talk about Emotional Intelligence than gut feeling; and Edward Buchan (Steve Pemberton), the expert on myths and legends behind unexplained or violent deaths: an eccentrically brilliant Ripperologist.
A modern police force is fighting an old adversary; an adversary who was never caught. Our heroes have a race against time to prevent further bloodshed.
Season 1 was produced by Marcus Wilson for Carnival Films. It was written by Ben Court and Caroline Ip and directed by SJ Clarkson. Sally Woodward Gentle is Executive Producer.
Jack the Ripper Facts
It is generally accepted that there are 5 canonical victims of Jack the Ripper, all murdered in 1888:
Mary Ann Nichols (31st Aug)
Annie Chapman (8th Sept)
Elizabeth Stride (30th Sept)
Catherine Eddowes (30th Sept)
Mary Jane Kelly (9th Nov)
...but there are 13 further alleged Ripper victims, murdered between 1887 and 1891.
The time when the 5 canonical victims were murdered was known as the “Autumn of Terror”.
All 5 canonical victims were probably prostitutes and had reputations as heavy drinkers.
The Ripper’s last canonical victim, Mary Jane Kelly, had a supper of fish and potatoes the night she was murdered.
There were more than 30 people suspected of being Jack the Ripper, including some famous names: Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor the Duke of Clarence, the novelists Arthur Conan Doyle and Lewis Carroll and artist Walter Sickert.
During the “Autumn of Terror”, the police and local press received hundreds of letters purporting to be written by the Ripper. Some Ripperologists believe that 3 are genuine: the “Dear Boss” letter, the “Saucy Jacky” postcard and the “From Hell” letter.
The name “Jack the Ripper” comes from the “Dear Boss” letter, which was written in red ink and sent to a London news agency in late September 1888.
The arrival of the “Dear Boss” letter and the reporting of it in newspapers all over the world turned the East End murders and Jack the Ripper into an international phenomenon.
“Jack the Ripper” was the first modern tabloid scandal and the way the story was used to sell papers is still replicated by tabloids today. Jack the Ripper almost became a cause célèbre despite the depraved savagery of his attacks on prostitutes.
However, the fact that he has passed into mythology is largely due to the prurient reporting of the times. In fact, it's believed that the Whitechapel killings led directly to the birth of the tabloid press.
Jack the Ripper was the first serial killer to strike in a major metropolis at a time when the popular press was on the ascendance.
Inspector Frederick Abberline was in charge of the Ripper investigation in 1888.
George Lusk, President of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, received half a human kidney preserved in wine, along with the “From Hell” letter, in the post on October 16th 1888. The kidney is believed to be that of Catherine Eddowes.
The FBI profiled Jack the Ripper in 1988 and produced a criminal investigative analysis of the murderer, but his identity still remains unproven today.
The American crime authoress Patricia Cornwell has spent years trying to prove that the artist Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper, including spending millions of pounds buying up over 30 of his paintings (and ripping up one of them up), some of his letters and even his writing desk, and then having a battery of forensic tests performed on them to prove her theory right.
Cornwell believes “100% that Walter Richard Sickert committed those serial crimes, that he is the Whitechapel murderer," and she is convinced that a defect in Sickert's penis, coupled with his failure to procreate from any of his three marriages and numerous affairs, turned him into a serial killer.
She has written a book – “Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed”. However her theory does not hold much sway in ‘Ripper world’, and most Ripperologists consider Cornwell’s theory total rubbish.
Series exclusive to BBC Entertainment
Season 1 (3 episodes)
Premiere: 22 June 2009 | Finale: 24 June 2009 | Daily, 20h30
Season 2 (3 episodes)
Premiere: 12 September 2011 | Finale: 26 September 2011 | Mondays, 20h00