1 9 8 8 (UK/USA)
2 x 90 minute episodes
Euston Films decided to celebrate the centenary of the horrific Jack the Ripper prostitute murders and make a killing with sales to America.
Michael Caine was Scotland Yard’s Detective Inspector Abberline in curly bowler and too-small jacket for this two-part miniseries/telemovie – a co-production with Lorimar (the Dallas people).
For it, they built a dinky Whitechapel in Virginia Water in which floozies floozed and urchins urched, speaking the sort of Dick Van Dyke cockney with which American housewives would have no problem.
Red Herrings weren’t simply slipped in – there was a drum roll first: “Oh Lord luv us, isn’t that Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, grandson of Queen Victoria, known to frequent these parts?”.
Caine’s copper – perusing a succession of ketchup-covered corpses – was naturally brighter than his snooty superiors and, despite his fondness for whisky, was nifty at unbuttoning bodices. Jane Seymour, playing an artist-cum-sleuth, obliged.
The producers improved the publicity by claiming that “tests” proved their culprit – Queen Victoria’s surgeon Sir William Withey Gull – was the real Ripper.
Historians begged to differ.
Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline
Sir William Gull
Sergeant George Godley
Robert James Lees
Coroner Wynne Baxter
Mary Jane Kelly