Someone at the BBC has been reading up on their Iain Sinclair.
In Spooks, Matthew Macfadyen plays Tom, who serves as the senior case officer for section D in seasons 1-3. Spooks was re-named 'MI5' when it broadcast here in the States. I guess so we wouldn't confuse it with what, I don't know, the Simpsons? Anyway, some skullduggery later, Tom is replaced by Adam (Rupert Penry-Jones), a charismatic and troubled transfer from MI6. Adam makes it for a few more years than Tom did before he also gets done in too.
Tom moves on to star as Detective Inspector Edmund Reid in Ripper Street. Adam left MI5 (dead) to become a young DI looking for respect from the tough-bitten crew in Whitechapel. Ripper Street begins a few months after the last of the murders associated with Jack the Ripper, in 1889. Whitechapel is set 100 and some years after the murders, and season 1 follows Adam ( DI Joseph Chandler) as his team tracks down a copycat killer.
Ripper Street quickly leaves behind its eponym. But Whitechapel has a second season with another copycat, one who has studied the Kray twins.
This is all Sinclair's territory. Read White Chappell, Scarlett Tracings for an epic, arcane prose-poem Ripper bit. Here's Sinclair on the Krays , who also make an appearance in Lights out for the Territory . Liturgy emerges when Sinclair walks. A London emerges that has as much to do with Blake's Jerusalem as it does the high survelliance state and Olympic relics. Sinclair has walked with Alan More, whose From Hell is a mesmerising and comprehensive reflection of Ripper lore. In a moment of high style, I would have said that it is a London extracted from Blake's buttocks. I'm not being intentionally provocative here. When I first read Sinclair, he was walking around the M-25 motorway in part to exorcise residual withcraft from the Thatcherite mausoleum in the Millenium Dome.
All three shows feature London as a character, with stunning cinematography of the city: they've also read some Ackroyd, I'd guess, and certainly know their Robinson.
Someone in the BBC has packed Whitechapel with all of this. Yes, the OCD detective inspector is a shallow conceit, and there's plenty more a bit over-ripe plot and character. But let's say you have the same interest in Ripper lore that you may also have in Lord of the Rings. Remember in the Jackson movies, when you kept looking at the screen and seeing some other illuminated scroll in Quenya? Whitechapel is like Lord of the Rings where you get to see Tom Bombadil.
It would be an interesting survey, to study the overlay of Ripper studies and Tolkien. I suspect, not so much?
There's a character in Whitechapel who refers to the "canonical' Ripper killings, and if that's your thing, I think you'll have the deep satisfaction of someone who recognizes the mainstream theories; appreciates the callout to some alternates; but also catches references to the downright quiggly.