To this day, the identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who terrorized back alleys of Victorian-era London, remains a mystery, despite an unparalleled investigation for the times ... See full summary »





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Episode credited cast:
David Ackroyd ...
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Paul Begg ...
Himself - Co-Author, 'Jack the Ripper A to Z'
Stewart Evans ...
Himself - Crime Historian and Author (as Stewart P. Evans)
Martin Fido ...
Himself - Crime Historian
Richard Jones ...
Himself - Author
Arthur Kent ...
Himself - Host


To this day, the identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who terrorized back alleys of Victorian-era London, remains a mystery, despite an unparalleled investigation for the times and the ongoing work of criminologists, scholars and hobbyists. This program visits the scenes of Jack the Ripper's bloody crimes, presents shocking photos of his victims and examines experts' theories regarding the killer's identity. [From Netflix]

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User Reviews

Jack the Ripper: Update.
11 May 2015 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

In 1888, London's East End, especially the Whitechapel District, was a pool of abject poverty, a shabby Dickensian slum inhabited by people who had been disenfranchised one way or another. There were no safety nets. If a man lost an arm in an accident at work, he was let go without compensation. If a man deserted his wife and family, the only recourse was prostitution. Prostitution flourished in Whitechapel and the man who came to be known as Jack the Ripper brutally slaughtered five of them before disappearing. He didn't simply kill his victims. When circumstances permitted, he disemboweled them, removed their wombs or kidneys, and in one case skinned the body and draped the entrails over the furniture.

This was distinctly ungentlemanly. All of London, all of the English-speaking world, was horrified. Queen Victoria was compelled to criticize the London police for "not being what they should be," although Scotland Yard had flooded Whitechapel with undercover agents, some dressed as women.

The program doesn't dwell unnecessarily on the explicit details of each murder, though it describes them accurately. The emphasis is on the efforts of the police to find a criminal when the technology of the time made it practically impossible. No fingerprints, no blood types, no DNA, no expertise in fibers or fabrics. The forensic techniques we take for granted now were simply unavailable then. The only damning evidence could come if the man were caught on the spot or an eye witness were able to identify him. Neither contingency was realized. Eye witness testimony we now recognize as notoriously fallible anyway.

About one fourth of the program treats the various half-baked theories that people have dreamed up post facto. At the time, the many Jews of Whitechapel were scapegoated, but barbers and butchers were also harassed. Fabulist conspiracies dragged in the Freemasons, the Royal family, visiting Americans, surgeons, and God knows who else.

The murders were never solved, and the dossier on Jack the Ripper has almost disappeared after being mined by souvenir hunters. The FBI behavioral scientist is probably right in guessing that he wasn't outstanding in any way and he lived quietly in the neighborhood. Modern serial killers are often described that way. "He kept mostly to himself." One Scotland Yard official makes a perceptive observation. Maybe nobody really WANTS the murders to be solved because there are so many vested interests that want the mystery to continue. Jack the Ripper "Walks" are organized. (You can also join a Sam Spade "walk" in San Francisco.) Books -- more and more fantastic -- are written and find an audience. The Ripper has generated a niche business.

But the continuing interest in the first famous serial killer is understandable. We know why people kill their friends or their spouses. The victims are those whose opinions we care about, who are in a position to hurt us. But murders involving strangers have a preposterous quality. We're simply unable to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who kills without any other motive.

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