The name of the BBC’s latest crime drama Ripper Street is derived from the nickname of Jack – the notorious killer who prowled the streets of Whitechapel at the end of the 19th century. Despite the slightly misleading title, Ripper Street is about the police unit that was created to tackle Jack rather than the killer himself. Tonight’s first episode began several months after the Ripper’s last attack although for a while we wondered if he had struck once again. As it turned out, the killer on this occasion was actually a sexual deviant named Sir Arthur Donaldson who aside from being a murderer was also something of a porn industry pioneer.
Between Sherlock Holmes, various Jack the Ripper movies and ITV’s Whitechapel, the key themes in Ripper Street have been explored ad nauseum. Therefore, Ripper Street is never going to win any prizes for originality. That being said, it was exciting, well acted and very authentic looking. Matthew Macfadyen (Mi5)was strong as the lead detective Reid. His co-stars including Amanda Hale (Crimson Petal and the White) put in flawless performances and from a production level you have to give the show top marks. If you can get past the feeling of De-ja-vu then you’ll enjoy Ripper Street because good TV is good TV.