Sticking: Whitechapel

Posted on April 4, 2012


Like a lot of people, I’m fascinated by crimes of Jack the Ripper, which happened between August 31 and November 9, 1888. So when BBCA started advertising a TV show about modern London police officers chasing a Ripper copycat, I had to watch.

We Watched It

DI Joseph Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) is a young detective assigned to a squad investigating crimes in London’s East End. The rest of his squad are generally older cops who like their crimes simple and their methods old-fashioned.

Faced with a series of inexplicable murders, Chandler consults with an expert on the Ripper killings, Edward Buchan (Steve Pemberton). Together, the squad and the historian pursue the killer.


The episodes were tightly scripted and fast-paced. The characters, including DS Ray Miles (Philip Davis) turned out to be complex and multi-dimensional. The actors really sold the emotional stakes of their investigation.

Season Two involved other legendary East End crime figures, the Kray twins.

Season Three, airing now, will follow a different format, covering two sets of crimes over six episodes.

The accents can be tough going, just so you’re aware. This is not a British CSI, so don’t expect a lot of lab work or forensic evidence.


DS Miles is a problematic character. All through Season One, he refused to admit the value of Buchan’s historical knowledge. In Season Two, his own family’s association with the original Krays overpowered any outside contributions. Now it’s Season Three, and he’s refusing Buchan’s insights again. Granted, Buchan can be irritating and he’s not always right, but I’m not sure how much longer we have to wait for him to have his Ghost Ship Moment.

It’s been my experience that people in life-or-death jobs who are constantly racing against a clock are usually quick to at least try everything that promises to make them more effective, or faster. Yet Miles is so reactionary that he doesn’t. Sigh.


Do you have a morbid or macabre interest, like mine in a 19th-Century serial killer? What do you do to indulge it?

Posted in: television