Series: Whitechapel

Miles: Congratulations, you were right. Now all you have to do is solve the unsolvable and catch the most famous serial killer that ever lived. Good luck.

Whitechapel (2009-13) was an ITV crime drama series starring Rupert Penry-Jones, Phil Davies and Steve Pemberton.

The first series, broadcast in 2009, concerned DI Joseph Chandler (Penry-Jones), a young, inexperienced, and overpromoted detective, who is sent to lead a squad of veteran homicide detectives in the London district of Whitechapel. As soon as he gets there, he is thrown into a murder investigation where a serial killer is re-creating the Ripper murders. Chandler now not only has to solve the most famous unsolved crime in history, but also has to work against his Old-Fashioned Copper department, who resent Chandler for being a "paper policeman".

The second series concerned a new series of copycat killings, based on the murders committed by the infamous London gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray. However, what seems like another copycat killing turns into something much worse when, Chandler and his men discover it's part of a plot by Ronnie's sons, Jimmy and Johnny, to take over London's crime.

The third series, broadcast in early 2012, sees a change in format. Instead of dealing with copycat murders the team are now using historical precedent to help inform their investgations.

A short spoof of the series, called Snow Whitechapel, aired Christmas 2012. Watch it here

A fourth series started airing on 4th September 2013, with two episodes written by Steve Pemberton (who plays Ed Buchan). ITV has concluded the series after the last episode was aired in Britain.

This series contains examples of:

  • Acting for Two: Craig Parkinson played both Kray twins.
  • Actor Allusion: The band from Series 3, The Devil's Architects, bear a suspicious likeness to Sam Stockman's band The Circus Electric.
    DC Riley: "Apparantely they're a kind of folk-rock electronica thing?"
    DC Kent: "Pfft. Explains why I've never heard of them."
    • Chandler mentions that he was approached by MI6 in his youth, a nod to Rupert Penry Jones role in Spooks
    • Kent wears a 'Colour of Bone' Shirt in series three, and a poster for the same band appears in series 4. Sam Stockman, who plays Kent, is Colour Of Bone's frontman
  • Adorkable: Kent
  • Alpha Bitch: Georgie Fox is a self-admitted one. And it's a plot point.
  • Arc Welding: For the first three seasons the team deals with unrelated cases, but the fourth season not only introduces the existence of the supernatural, but posits that all the grisly crimes in Whitechapel are the work of a "provocateur" who goads all the killers into committing their murders. This provocateur is heavily suggested to be a little old lady who flits in and out of background shots throughout the course of the season, manipulating things from behind the scenes.
  • Batman Gambit: Buchan tries one of these after he discovers that Jack is using information on his website to structure his own copycat killings (ie, in the case of the Double Event, Jack only kills one victim, sharing Buchan's belief that Elizabeth Stride's death was an unrelated attack). In an attempt to prevent the final murder, Buchan calls the press to an open area and burns copies of his books, claiming that he thinks Mary Kelly's death wasn't the work of Jack (she wasn't killed in the street, her mutiliations were savage as opposed to controlled) and renounces his life's work in the hope that Jack will believe him. It doesn't work.
  • Body Horror: One murderer in series 4 flays his victims alive. One of them survives with no face, fingertips and a strip cut from his back
  • Booby Trap: A suspected abandoned house turns out to be not one since it's used a recluse couple. To defend their "property", they rigged the place with thin wire that one of Chandler's detectives, DC Finlay Mansell, was seriously wounded on the ear.
  • Buddy Cops: Chandler, a young, fairly inexperienced detective and neat freak, and Miles, an Old-Fashioned Copper.
    • Kent is a quiet, straight-laced, by the books copper, Mansell is a womanising, practical joker.
  • Call Back: When Mansell joins the team, he is promptly handed a tie.
    • Miles's distaste for blended malt whiskey.
    • Chandler's distaste for the press
  • Character Development: Chandler
  • Characterization Marches On: In later series Chandler is plagued with OCD tendencies that make it difficult for him to perform simple tasks. It's surprising to go back to the first season and see that he started off as simply something of a neat-freak, whose insistence on cleanliness is only due to the fact that he thinks a neat environment will help the team concentrate.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The wooden lasts in series 2.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: DC Sanders goes missing without explanation between series 1 and 2.
    • Fitzgerald, a major character in the first two series vanishes without trace by the time three rolls around
    • Despite having a major role in the first two series Commander Anderson is never seen again after the Series 2 final
  • Contrived Coincidence: The last episode of series 3 not only contains a serial killer who escapes from incarceration at the exact same time as another psychopath finds a reason to start killing, but whose original victim shared a classroom with the second killer, who begins to kill more fellow classmates for reasons totally unrelated to the first. Plus, one of the targets is Buchan's therapist.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Actually, a crazy fox lady. She poisons the cats that break into her house.
  • Darker and Edgier: Series 1 wasn't exactly light and fluffy but series 2 was worse and series 3 was darker than both.Then series 4 decided to up them both by being based on horror concepts (witch trials, cannibals, skin flaying etc.) and introducing supernatural concepts and Louise Iver.
  • The Coroner: Caroline Llewellyn
  • Deathbed Confession: Buchan discovers the truth behind Miles's father's disappearance after disguising himself as a priest and visiting a dying man in hospital.
  • Defective Detective: Chandler, who has minor OCD, which gets a lot worse when he's stressed. In series two, when things seem to be completely against him and his team, it becomes almost unbearable, and he's forced to drink to stop himself.
  • Dirty Cop: Chandler and his team encounter a few of them. His team arrested nearly most of the detectives in the Organized Crime Division near the end of the 2nd season.
  • Disappeared Dad: Miles's father, who worked for the Krays. For most of his life Miles assumes that he just left, and it's not until Buchan investigates further that he realizes his father died because he wasn't willing to offer up his son to the Krays.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The villain of S3 E2 murders whole houses of people to "punish" the survivor because his best friend was killed in a car crash.
  • Disposable Woman: The series has an overwhelming amount of female victims, though this is justified considering most of the historical cases that the show is based on involved murdered women.
    • Disposable Sex Worker: Of the above, many of the dead women are prostitutes, most notably in the Ripper case. Again, this is justified and the show goes out of its way to treat the women with respect, both In-Universe and out. When the torsos of several women are found in the river, Chandler gives them all names in order to humanize them until they can be identified.
    ''She should have a name that evokes poetry, not death and dismemberment."
    • Furthermore, though the writers/producers had access to real post-mortem photographs of the Real Life Ripper victims, they decided not to feature them in the programme, considering it too exploitative (instead they took pictures of actresses in make-up).
  • Driven to Suicide: Mc Cormack in series 2, after betraying the department to the Kray twins.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Word of God states that the relationship between Chandler, Miles and Buchan is meant to resemble that of a child caught between two divorced parents.
  • Downer Ending: The end of series 3. Especially when the suspect's mother stabs Morgan Lamb with a broken glass on her chest before being restrained by uniformed officers for what happened to her son. Chandler and the detectives are devastated by her death.
    • The end of series 4. The team have finally got live murderers in custody, and in the middle of everyone celebrating the prison van is caught in an explosion, killing them all
  • Eureka Moment: When Buchan thinks up a way to get Kray DNA. He even says: "eureka!" out loud.
    • A quiz night with Buchan and one of their excluded ex-team members provides Chandler with the connection he needs to link three massacres.
    • Buchan provides several in series 3, not just the quiz night bit, like to the Arthur Ford case. Arthur Ford poisonsing a co-worker with Spanish Fly.
    • Heck, this is practically Buchan's Catch Phrase. In series four Riley wearily asks him to "stop saying that!"
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The Krays.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Chandler and Miles, over the course of series one.
  • Five-Man Band
  • Foreshadowing: Most prominately in the creepy sequences between major scenes. Although series three has an interesting one in the second major crime where Chandler names the unidentified bodies after women in poetry. It's his knowledge of art and poetry that enables him to find the heads of the victims, and therefore their indentities.
  • Friend Versus Lover: An odd variation considering Miles is perfectly fine with Chandler having a social life and even tries to hook him up with several attractive female colleges, but the rest of the team (particularly Kent) are protective of their relationship on their behalf. When Chandler choses Miles's opinion over that of a female DI, the team are visibly pleased.
  • Genre Shift: Season four introduces the subtle but undeniable existence of the supernatural.
  • The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: The team track down a witness by matching the DNA found in the high-heeled shoes she had been wearing (she kicked them off to better escape her would-be attacker).
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Kent shows shades of this directed toward two of Chandler's love interests in the third series.
  • Grotesque Cute: Despite her winestain birthmark, the artist in series 4 comes across as cute with her girlish voice; her conservative, rather fifties-esque dress sense and the name of Abigail Perkins. She also makes art exhibits out of flayed bodies with the help of a chainsaw.
  • Has a Type: When several women's body parts are brought to the pathologist over the course of several days, she eventually twigs as to a connection: they suggest a similiar physical type. She suggests that the killer Has a Type and looks upon the bodies as "parts of a doll."
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
    • Steve Pemberton, the obsessive Ripperologist who helps Chandler with his investigations, is best known as one of the writers and actors in The League of Gentlemen.
    • Rupert Penry-Jones is probably best known for Casanova and Spooks and Phil Davies, who plays Miles, has been in Doctor Who, Sherlock and Merlin.
    • Hapless "turn your back!" Anderson from Sherlock has a minor role in a series four episode.
    • In the second series, we have Peter Serafinowicz, who was in Spaced and voiced Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace.
  • History Repeats: The point of the entire series.
  • Hope Spot: Chandler making jokes in S4 Ep4 buoys up the team by the end of the episode, after loosing yet another suspect, he has completely lost his sense of humour
    • In the series 4 finale the team captures an entire cult of murderers, gets them into the custody van complete with an escort. In the middle of everyone celebrating they get the call that the van crashed, killing everyone inside.
  • I Ate WHAT?: Buchan is chatting in a diner with a former criminal who used to dispose of bodies for the Krays. He tells him that he used to grind up the bodies, drive out to a farm and feed it to the pigs. Suddenly Buchan doesn't look quite so enthusiastic about his plate of bacon.
  • Idiot Ball: During Series 1, the sheer length of time that various people suspect Buchan might be the Ripper-copycat, based solely on his in-depth knowledge of how the murders were committed. This is despite the fact that, (as he rightfully points out), there are millions of Ripperologists who possess the exact same knowledge and it can easily be found online!
  • Ignored Enamored Underling: Kent should be the page image
  • It's All About Me: After her entire family is killed, all Lola can do is whine that she's not going to be taken care of (as in, no one's going to rub her feet or make chocolate drinks for her. Seriously).
  • It's All My Fault: Buchan takes his job very seriously, and when he's slow on the uptake regarding the proper research, he blames himself for the deaths that happened in the interim.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Buchan isn't exactly a "jerk", but he's a very pompous, self-important Man Child - yet with a very strong moral conscience. Right from the start he points out that though he's fascinated by Jack, he in no way admires what he did.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Whenever Chandler visits the hospital, the camera takes the time to linger on a red-headed nurse. She ends up being the Ripper's last victim, as anyone with knowledge of Mary Kelly's distinctive red-hair will probably be able to guess.
    • In series 1 the colour red is shown every time someone or something strongly connected to the murder appears.
  • London Gangster: The focus of the second series.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Miles' reaction to Edward Buchan, the obsessive Ripperologist.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Season four plays heavily with this trope. Although many things are explained, by the end the writers have definitely introduced the existence of the supernatural.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Louise Iver can be spotted throughout the course of season four, lurking away in the background, watching the detectives go about their work.
  • Meaningful Name:
  • Misplaced Retribution: The bad guy in episodes 1 and 3 of series 3.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Chandler. Hinted at in series one and two Out and out stated in s3 ep1, Miles asks Chandler why he hasn't married, citing civil partnerships, when Chandler says that isn't the reason he doesn't actually say he's straight.
    • Series 1, when Chandler arrives at Miles' birthday, Miles says he could have brought someone, "A partner." To which Chandler replies, "I'm not gay."
    • Inverted with Jimmy Kray. Because he's trying to embody his dead (homosexual) father, he also establishes that he's gay - but in truth, his boyfriend is a Sweet Polly Oliver who's just pretending to be male to uphold the image.
  • The Mole: Fitzgerald in series 1, Mc Cormack in series 2.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Buchan, after learning he gave the new Ripper all the information he wanted to commit the crimes.
    • Buchan again in series 3, now working as the team's researcher he blames himself for not finding the information they needed early in the investigation
    • Chandler gets a minor one when he realises he falsely accused Kent of being The Mole in S2
    • In Series 3, when they inform Nathan of what "Max" has been doing to his love interests.
  • Na´ve Newcomer: Chandler in series one.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Averted. One young man witnesses a murder and runs out into the street in a panic. He's so terrified that he's completely forgotten he has no clothes on, and the scene is played completely seriously.
  • Primal Fear: The first villian in Series 3 uses the Primal Fear of the dark to his advantage.
    • Nearly all of series three's villians use this.
  • Remember the New Guy: In series four, it's suddenly revealed that Kent has a never-before seen or mentioned twin sister. (You'd think this would have come up when they were investigating the Kray Twins!)
  • Replacement Goldfish: The killer in the second episode of series 3 tries to replace his First Love with various other girls who look like her.
  • The Resenter: Marcus Salter, a photosensitive man who hates his half-brother for making him The Unfavourite.
  • Re Tool: The third series drops the copy-cat killer angle and instead uses the pattern of historical murders being used as a precedent for solving contemporary crimes. It also brings Buchan on board as a semi-official researcher for the team (installed out of sight in the basement), and drops the three-episode mini-series for three Two Part Episodes. The fourth series then plays off this new setup and focuses more on the possibly supernatural and adds more horror concepts.
  • Revolving Door Casting: The three original cast members have remained, but of the supporting cast only one of the original investigation team is still on the show: one was Put on a Bus, one was Driven to Suicide, and the last suffered Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
  • Rule of Scary: Series three is built on this trope, in which practically everything is designed to be as scary as possible. Even the team's work station is shadowy and ominous, as are throwaway characters. One witness is a creepy voodoo lady, who could have just as easily been a housewife with curlers in her hair, except that a voodoo lady who describes a suspect as "the devil walking in Whitechapel" is just plain scarier. Then series four happened and focused even more on horror and the unknown.
  • Samus is a Girl: Jimmy's "Blond Boy".
  • Single-Minded Twins: Played with. The mystique of the Kray twins lies in this trope, but Joe realizes that Jimmy is more psychotic than his brother and seeks to exploit this by dividing them.
  • Police Are Useless: Outside of the team, this is very much the case. They release prisoners because they get spooked, let a woman kill another woman in custody (did both guards really need to go get her a cup of tea?) or are corrupt and in the pocket of the Kray twins.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: One shows up when detectives arrested a suspect in a cinema theater. The arrest gets the crowd angry that the detectives needed to go to the back to avoid being mobbed.
  • Shame If Something Happened: How the Krays threaten Miles.
  • Shower of Angst: Chandler is seen sitting fully-clothed in the shower during his Heroic BSOD after Cazenove commits suicide so close to him that his brains splatter onto him.
  • The Smurfette Principle: In the first series, pathologist Caroline Llewellyn is the only female character who isn't a Ripper victim.
    • In series 3, Megan Riley is added to the team.
  • Spoiled Brat: The three "victims" of the killer in the first episode of series three. He murders entire houses full of people so that the survivor has to grapple with the horror of finding the bodies.
  • Spot of Tea: The standard response to any traumatic experience.
    • In fact, in the finale episode of series three, the mother of a recently dead serial killer asks for a Spot of Tea from the nearby policemen on duty. As soon as they're gone, she uses their absence to murder her son's final targeted victim.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Morgan. Although this is also subverted as Morgan's death has nothing to do with our heroes and is more about revenge. It shocks and paralyzes the team causing a downward spiral more than motivation.
  • SWAT Team: CO19 gets called in to assist the detectives and their uniformed colleagues when a suspect is armed with a firearm and/or to provide tactical support.
  • There Are No Therapists: Played straight in the first two series with Chandler and his OCD. Averted in the final arc of S3, where we see Ed in therapy and the therapist herself becomes an important character.
  • The Unseen: Miles's wife and kids are only ever seen fleetingly. It's not until the third series that we get a brief glimpse of his wife's face.
    • Dr Llewellyn is preganant in series one and four but we never see or hear anything of her family.
    • Riley's husband is never seen and her kids are only seen in the photograph she keeps on her desk.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: In Series 2, this is Cazenove's reason for working with the Krays, and helping them make their "Empire of Crime". Not quite utopia, but Cazenove sees it better to have one strong crimelord than lots of little criminals.
  • Wall Crawl: In the stylized sequences that occasionally flash between scenes, there is a split-second image of a man in episode one of series three that demonstrates this trope. Its meaning is inexplicable until you reach the end of the episode and it's put into context.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the first series, the Ripper's first victim is a woman called Emma Jones, who actually survives the knife attack but ends up in a coma. We never learn whether she recovered or not.
    • Despite having a major role in the first two series Commander Anderson is never seen or heard from again.
    • In series 3 each episode has a Red Herring suspect, one which is built up considerably and become rather a fascinating character in their own right - though thanks to the nature of the show, they are dropped as soon as the detectives realize they weren't involved in the case.
  • Yoko Oh No: In-Universe. On being questioned about rivalries and jealousies in the band, a groupie insists: "I'm not a Yoko."
  • Younger Than They Look: One of the suspects in the Ripper case is an Eastern Europe refugee who is twenty-three but looks much, much older due to the death of his family, a gun-shot wound and all the suffering he's been through.
    • A suspect in S3 looks to be about 28/29 but is actually 22. His age is actually a plot point.