The deliciously barmy Whitechapel returns to ITV tonight for a fourth series of moody lighting and gothic thrills. For a crime drama originally about a Jack The Ripper copycat, it’s a show that has proved to have legs.
It’s an atmospheric little beast, Whitechapel, cheerfully sinister. It features one of those police station sets that manages to look more like an abandoned menswear department than anything remotely like a modern copshop. Everything is so dark and gloomy and mouldy, and there are lots of scratchy, time-lapse effects spattered into the drama. It’s no wonder everybody is so paranoid. The scripts by Ben Court and Caroline Ip are a little bit bonkers, but in a good way.
The second series, featuring Rupert Penry-Jones, Steve Pemberton and the awesome Phil Davis, was about a couple of Kray copycats, but the third series, and this latest one, have expanded on the idea of historical precedents for modern-day murders in that unfortunate borough — now blighted by hideous art galleries and painfully-expensive boutiques — which echo former killings in the area, such as silent horror movies, ghoulish surgeons and cryptozoology.
You’re probably desparate for some blurb by now:
Chandler and Miles are called to investigate a bizarre murder after a vagrant is slowly crushed to death by stones. The killer’s macabre methods are investigated by the team, and as things unravel to reveal a more ominous possibility, they consider a sinister 16th century precedent.
Shortly after the first murder a second body is found, again the victim of a grotesque death. Why such horrific executions? Could it be that someone is killing witches in Whitechapel?
So — make a note — the first of three two-part stories is on at 9pm tonight.
Parallel timelines are all the rage in telly, and tomorrow night’s new crime drama The Guilty – two crime dramas on consecutive nights, you are spoiling us ITV! – toggles between 2008 and the present day.
Here’s the blurb:
2008 – a glorious May bank holiday weekend. A four year old boy goes missing after a neighbourhood barbecue. Believed to have been abducted, a nationwide search and media frenzy ensue, but the boy is never found.
Present day – the wettest spring on record. Workmen digging up a burst water main uncover a body under the communal garden. Little Callum Reid – buried just yards from his own front door. The missing boy never left Arcadian Gardens.
Tamsin Greig – show of hands, please, if you liked her in that other thing – stars as DC Maggie Brand, who leads the new investigation into the boy’s murder. Katherine Kelly and Darren Boyd are his distraught parents. I bet Brand is carrying some emotional baggage of her own, these modern cops always do.
ITV’s short crime dramas can be a bit of a mixed bag sometimes, but they’re always worth slapping onto the hard disc.
The first episode of The Guilty, the first of three, is on ITV tomorrow night at 9pm.