Jack the Ripper (1988 TV series)

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DVD cover for Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper is a 1988 two-part television film/miniseries portraying a fictionalized account of the hunt for Jack the Ripper, the unidentified serial killer responsible for the Whitechapel murders of 1888. The series coincided with the 100th anniversary of the murders.


During the autumn of 1888, a notorious serial killer nicknamed "Jack the Ripper" terrorizes the East End of London by murdering "shilling whores" through gruesome and horrific ways. Soon, it isn't long before a public outrage erupts throughout the country and the world's tabloids immediately focus on Whitechapel. Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline is assigned to find, locate and bring justice to the Ripper, only to find that the entire case is much more than a murder inquiry.


Using historical characters involved in the genuine 1888 hunt for the killer, the film was written by Derek Marlowe and David Wickes, the latter also being the film's director. The series drew heavily on the same discredited Masonic/Royal Family conspiracy theory as the 1978 film Murder By Decree, and later in From Hell (2001) - a theory first put forward in the 1960s by Thomas E. A. Stowell who published his claims in a November 1970 issue of The Criminologist.[1] His theory was later turned into the bestselling Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution by Stephen Knight. The 1988 film dispenses with the fictional Sherlock Holmes who uncovered the conspiracy in Murder By Decree and instead concentrates on the real-life Whitechapel detective Frederick Abberline.[2]

Several endings were filmed for the series.[3] Before the series was broadcast, writer David Wickes claimed that he had been allowed unprecedented access to the Scotland Yard files on the Ripper case and stated that his production would be revealing the 'true' identity of Jack the Ripper for the first time. After pressure from Ripperologist Melvin Harris and others, he was forced to withdraw this claim.[2] Originally, Barry Foster of Van der Valk was cast in the role of Abberline, and actually began filming for the series in October 1987. However, it was decided that a more famous actor would be required for the part if the series was to sell in the United States, so the role was recast with Michael Caine who began filming in February 1988. Ironically, Foster had earlier replaced Caine in Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy, when Caine refused to play a serial killer who mutilates women.[4] George Godley was originally played by Brian Capron.[3][5]


Jack the Ripper was nominated for the following awards:


Actor / ActressCharacter
Michael CaineChief Inspector Frederick Abberline
Armand AssanteRichard Mansfield, American Stage actor in the theatrical play Jekyll and Hyde
Ray McAnallySir William Gull, Physician-in-Ordinary to Queen Victoria alias Jack the Ripper
Hugh FraserCommissioner of Police Sir Charles Warren
Lewis CollinsSgt. George Godley
Ken BonesRobert James Lees, Queen Victoria's psychic medium
Edward JuddChief Superintendent of Police Thomas Arnold
Susan GeorgeCatherine Eddowes, fourth victim of Jack the Ripper
Angela CrowElizabeth Stride, third victim of Jack the Ripper
Jane SeymourEmma Prentiss
Harry AndrewsCoroner Wynne Baxter
Lysette AnthonyMary Jane Kelly, fifth and last victim of Jack the Ripper
Gerald SimDr. George Bagster Phillips
Jon LaurimoreInspector John Spratling
Peter ArmitageSgt. Kerby
Ronald HinesHenry Matthews
George SweeneyCoach driver John Netley
Michael GothardGeorge Lusk, Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee
Richard MorantDr. Theodore Dyke Acland, son-in-law of Sir William Gull
T. P. McKennaT. P. O'Connor, Editor of The Star newspaper
Jonathan MooreBenjamin Bates, reporter for The Star
Michael HughesDr. Llewellyn, Chief Medical Examiner of Whitechapel
Marc CulwickPrince Albert Victor
Gary ShailBilly White, a Whitechapel Pimp
Roger Ashton-GriffithsRodman, a blind brothel operator in Whitechapel

Production details[edit]


  1. ^ Stowell, T. E. A. (November 1970) "Jack the Ripper – A Solution?". The Criminologist vol.5 pp.40–51
  2. ^ a b Jack the Ripper reviewed on Eofftv.com
  3. ^ a b Action TV Online
  4. ^ "Jack the Ripper film review". A Life at the Movies. April 24, 2010. 
  5. ^ Series background on Eofftv.com

External links[edit]