Dark­ness drops on Whitechapel

UK se­ries con­tin­ues to push lim­its with grisly deeds and cracked crims, writes Guy Davis

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SINCE its pre­miere sea­son, which saw the grue­some Jack the Rip­per mur­ders recre­ated in 21st cen­tury Lon­don, the UK crime drama Whitechapel has por­trayed some truly nasty crimes.

Which begs the ques­tion, ‘is Whitechapel the neigh­bour­hood ac­tu­ally a nice place to live?’

‘‘It is nice, ac­tu­ally,’’ Whitechapel Ru­pert Penry-Jones chuck­les.

‘‘It’s be­come a very trendy part of Lon­don. It wasn’t al­ways but now it’s where the young, cool peo­ple tend to go. I love it there – it’s got real at­mos­phere.’’

Well, if the fourth sea­son of Whitechapel is any in­di­ca­tion, the area not only at­tracts the young and the cool but the crazy and the blood­thirsty.

The sea­son is split into three twoepisode in­ves­ti­ga­tions by Penry-Jones’ DI Joseph Chan­dler, Phil Davis’ DS Ray Miles and a team in­clud­ing un­of­fi­cial con­sul­tant Ed­ward Buchan (Steve Pem­ber­ton), a true-crime en­thu­si­ast.

One of the cases fea­tures a witch hunt where vic­tims are crushed un­der boul­ders and burned at the stake. Then there’s mys­te­ri­ous deaths in the sew­ers that may be the re­sult of feral pigs.

‘‘And there’s one where some­one is

star skin­ning peo­ple,’’ Penry-Jones says.

‘‘This is pos­si­bly the most grisly sea­son yet.’’

But the ac­tor, whose other no­table small-screen roles in­clude ap­pear­ances in Spooks and Silk, rather likes it that way.

‘‘To be hon­est, the scarier and more grue­some the bet­ter, as far I am con­cerned,’’ he says.

‘‘I’ve spent so much of my ca­reer star­ing at com­puter screens, stand­ing around in a court­room or do­ing things that are rather or­di­nary, it’s rather nice to com­ple­ment it with some­thing like Whitechapel that’s so freaky and out there.’’

Still, Penry-Jones re­alises life in Whitechapel can seem a lit­tle too freaky on oc­ca­sion.

‘‘The writ­ers gave them­selves a hard task nam­ing the show Whitechapel be­cause they had no in­ten­tion of it be­ing an on­go­ing se­ries – it was just go­ing to be about that one Jack the Rip­per case,’’ he says.

‘‘But when it be­came a se­rial-killer show, hav­ing a new se­rial killer in Whitechapel ev­ery week ran the risk of be­ing quite ridicu­lous. So there had to be a rea­son for all this, which is why you have Buchan in the first of th­ese new episodes talk­ing about ‘the root of all evil’, and that per­haps there’s some­thing in Whitechapel that is be­hind all th­ese ter­ri­ble things.’’

Such dread­ful crimes re­quire a de­ter­mined, dili­gent crime fighter, and Penry-Jones’ Chan­dler fits the bill. He’s a model in­ves­ti­ga­tor but his peo­ple skills could use a lit­tle pol­ish­ing.

‘‘Well, ev­ery po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor th­ese days has to have some quirk,’’ the ac­tor laughs.

‘‘But there is some­thing very sad about Chan­dler – he’s al­ways on the out­side look­ing in. I think Miles is the only friend he has.

‘‘You do get some insight into what it was like for him grow­ing up dur­ing this sea­son, how­ever, and you start to see what may have made him the man he is.’’

Whitechapel: Satur­days, 8.30pm, ABC1.

Phil Davis, Steve Pem­ber­ton and Ru­pert Penry-Jones

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