Daily Mail - Daily Mail Weekend Magazine

ON SET WITH... Steve Pemberton


Steve, 46, found fame on surreal TV series which he co-wrote. The League Of Gentlemen, Here the Lancashire- born actor and writer describes a week on set of spooky cop show Whitechape­l, where he reprises his role as Buchan... murder historian Edward


Whitechape­l was only meant to be a one-off, about a modern-day Jack the Ripper. But it seemed to hit a chord, it was fresh, and the creators have really kept that going. This series of murders is even more ghoulish, bringing in elements like witchcraft and mythical sewer-dwelling creatures. I don’t think any of us imagined we’d still be here after four years, but it’s pretty much the same team. As murder historian Buchan I dip in and out more than the others and today’s my first day back after a few weeks off, but it’s easy to get straight back into it.


I only really film in one place, the gloomy basement office where Buchan stores his archives and that’s where I am today. My mother says, ‘Why do they keep you down there?’, but I tell her it’s better than having to crawl around the sewers like the others. I remember the first time I saw the office and it was just as I imagined it. We film in the disused Hornsey Town Hall in north London and it’s very oppressive, with low lights and long corridors – though my ‘historical archives’ are mainly old planning applicatio­ns for garages in Hornsey from the 1970s.



Today we’re finishing filming the two shows I wrote for this series, so I’m feeling a sense of relief. It could have been awkward if the other actors didn’t like my lines but they all seemed happy with the scripts; I even managed to get in a bit of humour for Rupert Penry Jones’s very serious character Chandler [right, with Buchan].


Buchan’s such a larger-than-life character and so weird he could be a killer himself. While working on the show I’ve met lots of people like him. When we first started we met some ‘ripperolog­ists’, and I realised it’s a fascinatin­g and extremely competitiv­e world. I still visit their websites, and I’m actually having a look around one today. They talk about the Ripper murders as if it’s an ongoing investigat­ion. Dip your toe in that world and you find it’s alive with people just like Buchan. But this series we’ve also seen the more human side of him; he’s even been on a date.



As we get onto filming our last block, and I start thinking about seeing the sun in Spain, where I’m heading next to film Benidorm, I finally get to see what happens in the end. Even though I wrote two of the scripts for the show I never knew how it was all going to finish. It’s an exciting time as we plunge into our last few weeks of horror. Lots of people tell me, ‘I can’t bear to watch Whitechape­l, it’s too scary.’ But then they still watch it. Horror is exciting; it makes you feel alive. So much television is forgettabl­e so it’s fantastic to be part of something that people really talk about.

Whitechape­l, Wednesday, 9pm, ITV.

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