Jack the Ripper was the most notorious killer of the Victorian era, but he wasn’t the only one. Haunted by their failure to apprehend him, the police on “Ripper Street,” the new period procedural premiering January 19 on BBC America, have to move on.
“The whole idea for us setting out on this journey was to really discard Jack the Ripper at least in terms of wondering who he was or trying to catch him,” creator Richard Warlow said at the TCA winter press tour Saturday (Jan. 5).
“What we wanted to do really was tell stories about the streets down which he walked and committed his crimes in the wake of those terrible murders and how it affected the community — most importantly the police who tried and failed to catch him.”
Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew MacFayden) and Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn, who plays Bronn on “Game of Thrones”) are working during a “time of great change” and experimentation in police work, notes executive producer Will Gould. “So many things, like fingerprinting, were just around the corner, [but] our characters” — especially roguish American captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) — “felt they were in a modern age.”
“Reid is convinced that if tomorrow’s technology had been here today, they would’ve got the Ripper. They just didn’t have the resources they needed to get that guy.”
Thanks in part to the detectives’ controversial and “cutting edge” (for that time) forensics, each episode of “Ripper Street” will feature a “standalone crime that is solved,” promises Warlow. But will the “Ripper Street” detectives ever identify Jack?
“I think the answer’s no,” says Warlow. “The whole point of show is what it was like for police at the time — the confusion and loss and trying to move on. The whole credo of Reid’s character is that we are moving on, there are other things to concentrate on and we always have to be true to that.”
“[The Ripper] will always be part of our characters’ lives,” notes Gould. “Obviously we’ll never come up with this is the guy, because no one ever did.”
“Unless we do work it out,” laughs Warlow.
“If we work it out,” cracks Gould, referencing the holiday-themed episodes of shows like “Downton Abbey and “Doctor Who,” “then it will be a Christmas special.”
“Ripper Street” debuts Saturday, Jan. 19 at 9 p.m. on BBC America.