Whitechapel Review: Stop! Hammer-time!

WHITECHAPEL:  Monday 30th January, ITV1, 10pm

“Do you believe in redemptionâ€?, asks Rupert Penry-Jones’ straight-laced detective DI Chandler, in the first episode of ITV1’s Whitechapel. Obviously someone at ITV does.

The historical detective thriller may have made gory waves when it first landed on our screens in 2009 but a second series – which included some wishy-washy references to the Kray twins – was sadly lacking in the plot department. Ratings remained good, yet we were looking for a return to form here and amid all the ridiculous plot twists and juddery editing, we got one. After finally commissioning a full six-part run (following two three-episode miniseries) ITV will be relieved that the show seems to have recaptured itself.

We rejoin DI Chandler and his wide-boy sidekick Miles (Phil Davis) just as four bespoke tailors meet a vile end in their fortress of a shop. It’s then a simple case of “find the hammer, find the killerâ€? as Chandler and the team attempt to track down the culprit amid growing public panic.

A suspicious carpet-fitter is first on the hit list after the team craftily deduce that tradesmen carry tools – never mind the motive. But soon enough the long arm of the law rests its hefty grip upon the shoulders of a photo-phobic taxi driver with anger issues and an evil “mu ha haâ€? that would put that guy from Michael Jackson’s Thriller to shame.

It may all sound a bit ridiculous. And it is. But it is also good fun to watch. The horror stakes (no pun intended) have been raised significantly in this new series, with a return to the disturbing glory of series one sure to follow.

The central detective duo, as described by my esteemed colleague as “Prince Charles and Phil Mitchellâ€?, still retain their original appeal. “You know how I feel  about booksâ€?, barks Miles at his studious counterpart. Inconvenient then, that the crimes which appear in the series are based upon real and researchable felonies…unless of course, you have an archive-dwelling skivvy in the wings.

Enter Edward Buchan (Steve Pemberton). His superpower? The ability to explain away any plot holes using vaguely related/random incidents from criminal history. You see this series also marks the official initiation of Edward into the police team, laminate badge and all.

Back to the case at hand and, annoyingly for the team, their prime suspect is back on the run after magically disappearing from his cell. Will they find the culprit before his penchant for scampering frantically around a strip-light results in the loss of more innocent lives and gore? Hopefully not.