Whitechapel II

29 September 2010

Long time readers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the moody, atmospheric and rather gruesome ITV series Whitechapel, which involved a modern day copycat of the 1888 Jack the Ripper murders. It could all have gone SO badly wrong but was actually spot on with a fabulous script, arty direction, a gloomy palette and a haunting soundtrack as well as a cracking plot.

Imagine my excitement therefore when I discovered that Whitechapel II is going to be hitting our screens at some point in the next couple of months. Hardly surprising really as Whitechapel captured an audience of over 9 million viewers! Jack the Ripper can only be copied so many times so this time the story is centered around an updated version of the Kray Twins, who are another infamous part of Whitechapel’s past. I expect it to be just as good as the first series, especially as it has the same excellent cast on board, including the very very lovely Rupert Penry-Jones, Phil Davis and even Steve Pemberton, whose character apparently has enthusiasms and interests beyond Ripperology. This time the team will be joined by Peter Serafinowicz, who probably won’t be doing the voice that he used in Black Books, alas.

Like the first series, Whitechapel II has been filmed on location in Whitechapel, Bethnal Green and various other spots in the East End so I expect more gloom and decay as the camera shows the contrast between the gleaming newness of the City and the rundown Victorian shabbiness of Spitalfields. Whitechapel managed to capture the area perfectly and I expect to see it explored even more in the next installment.

I’ll be interested to see how the Kray story pans out, as it is a bit unusual but apparently ‘copycat murders, maiming and torture trigger intense emotions and DI Chandler will be given an even greater run for his money than the first time round. This time it is personal.’

It sounds like a lot of effort has gone into the production to ensure that it is as authentic as possible, with many of the Kray’s actual hangouts used, such as the Repton Boxing Club, Pellici’s café and, most infamously, the Blind Beggar pub on Whitechapel Road. It seems like this time they’ve concentrated on the downtrodden sixties facade of the East End rather than the dilapidated Victorian streets of Whitechapel.

‘“Having access to locations that were frequented by Ronnie and Reggie Kray gave us additional layers of authenticity that we know are there, even if the audience don’t,” explains Sally Woodward Gentle, Creative Director and Executive Producer of Whitechapel II.  “Even if it’s not explicit on screen, there is something implicit that gives it a little bit more weight.  With the first series some of the original sites had been redeveloped but what is different about this series is that it is recent history and a lot of the iconic sites still exist in their original form.  The Repton Boxing Club and Pellici’s Café are still the most amazing, extraordinarily beautiful places…visually delicious.”

I’ve had a look at the synopsis for the first episode and have to say that it sounds absolutely superb: exciting, dramatic and full of suspense.

I can’t wait to see it and luckily I won’t have to wait very long as I will be heading to the East End of London next Thursday night to attend a special Krays themed preview screening of the first episode and will be reporting back the next day! Even better, we’re promised that some of the stars of the series will be in attendance too so I’ll be doing my best to sidle up to them with my camera! A free bar and celebrities? What could possibly go wrong?!

I’ll leave you with this fab quote I found by Michael Deacon of the Telegraph about Steve Pemberton, who plays the Ripperologist character, which really made me laugh:

Pemberton is no stranger to macabre television – he was one of the creators and stars of BBC2’s grisly comedy series The League of Gentlemen – and has had first-hand experience of the eccentricities of some Ripper enthusiasts. He was once in a true-crime specialist book shop in central London when he saw a fellow customer rush up to a new book on Jack the Ripper and start grunting and panting (“in an almost sexual way,” he says) while muttering the name of the Ripper’s final victim, Mary Kelly.’

Whitechapel II is due to start on ITV1 on Monday 11th October at 9pm.