Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg, Myanna Buring, Charlene McKenna, Jonathon Barnwell, David Wilmot, Ian Bannon, David Dawson.
London’s Whitechapel district is never far from a source of inspiration when it comes to gruesome tales, especially when it comes to its down at heel and salubrious past. Things may have improved in the 130 years since Jack the Ripper stalked its alleyways but in the 1880’s the police and the public were under siege by evil and danger that masqueraded itself as decency. The latest B.B.C. television series to look at the way Victorian detectives dealt with the disorder and death of the times is the tremendous Ripper Street.
Based on real people; the series is headed by ex-Spooks star Matthew Macfadyen and Jerome Flynn as Detective Inspector Edmund Reid and Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake and shows the life of the East End and its people six months after the final Ripper murder in the autumn of 1888. With a city and populace still understandably terrified over its recent past, the disfigured remains of another young woman manages to whip up the people into a frenzy, some out of fear, others out of a sense of profit.
What the programme dramatically manages to portray is a manner of realism and gritty disgust as it ties the clues together of what really happened to the young woman and ties it in with its social documentary feel and in keeping with real events. For this it will surely be a ratings winner for the B.B.C.
It is a pleasure to see Matthew Macfadyen back in television and it feels as though his canny understated acting has been wasted on advertising roles, which whilst they may be lucrative, does nothing for his fans. To be joined by Jerome Flynn as his redoubtable sergeant, Adam Rothenberg as the ex-Pinkerton detective and the superb MyAnna Buring as brothel owner Long Susan is a casting agency’s dream. Myanna Buring especially is a dream to watch especially as she oozes charm in whatever she appears in, even in the most supercilious of films, she at least holds her head high.
A great new series for viewers to get their interest going, Ripper Street is a jewel in the crown of New Year television programming.
Ripper Street continues next Sunday.
Ian D. Hall