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 (Penry-Jones), a fast-tracked, media savvy DI on his first big murder case; Ray Miles (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 (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.
Rupert Penry-Jones is quick to point out that DI Chandler, his character in Whitechapel, is no hero.
“He doesn’t have all the answers. He doesn’t know how to fix everything. He doesn’t kill the bad guy and save London like Adam in Spooks,” explains Rupert.
“He’s a bit less of an action man and a bit more cerebral. He doesn’t really like the sight of blood. Chandler is the total opposite to Adam in that way – he finds the whole thing quite scary. It was actually really nice to play someone who was not an action man for a change.”
Describing his character, Rupert adds: “Whitechapel starts with him being given his first murder case which all concerned think is going to be a simple domestic. But of course it turns out to be a serial killer. So he ends up on this investigation having to muck in a lot more than he expected and realises he enjoys policing rather more than just sitting behind a desk.
“He is a slightly obsessive, compulsive, asexual guy. You get no insight into his personal life at all. It is all work with him.”
In the first episode fast tracker, DI Joseph Chandler, is posted to Whitechapel by Commander Anderson to lead the investigation into the murder of a young woman, the final step before promotion. However the case does not turn out as straightforward as Chandler had hoped.
The victim, Cathy Lane, is found by Community Support Officer Mary Bousfield, bleeding to death, her throat cut, in the yard of a Board School. The Whitechapel squad – front-line, hard-bitten DS Ray Miles and DCs Kent, McCormack, Sanders and Fitzgerald – arrive at the scene after Cathy is pronounced dead and are less than pleased to hear of the imminent arrival of yet another new DI, a ‘plastic’, a ‘paper policeman’ who has no idea what he is doing. Chandler arrives, armed with the knowledge of his courses and text books, ready to solve his first murder.
Miles’ instinct tells him that the prime suspect is Cathy’s husband, Rob Lees, a violent man with a history of assaulting his wife. However, when it turns out Rob has a ‘ten copper alibi’, the case becomes more complicated than it originally appeared. And when the pathologist, Dr Llewellyn, uncovers a nasty surprise that Cathy Lane’s killer attempted to gut her, Chandler becomes increasingly aware that he is out of his depth: not only does he have a hostile squad to lead, but there is no evidence and no witnesses.
Then Ripperologist, Edward Buchan, turns up to offer the theory that London has a copycat Jack the Ripper killer. Miles dismisses Buchan immediately as a crackpot Ripperologist and a timewaster, however Chandler, although sceptical at first, does realise that the case appears to share many similarities with the murder of Mary Ann Nichols in 1888.
At a total loss as to how to progress the investigation and fearful there will be another murder, Chandler puts his career on the line and stages a major police operation in Whitechapel. All the squad go undercover and stake out the area around Brick Lane in Whitechapel near to where Jack the Ripper murdered his second victim, Annie Chapman in 1888. No one is convinced, least of all DS Miles… until the body of Alice Graves is found in the early hours – an exact recreation of the murder of Annie Chapman in 1888.
It is now Chandler’s job to track down the world’s most infamous serial killer.
Monday, 2 February 2009, 9:00PM – 10:00PM