Jack the Ripper (1988)

1 series, 2 episodes, 100m
35mm film, colour, 4:3
mono, English
Reviewed at The EOFFTV Review

A British/American horror television mini-series directed by David Wickes. It was broadcast in the UK to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the real life Whitechapel murders. Despite pre-broadcast claims that it was to be the most accurate portrayal of the crimes to date, using “secret files” shown to Wickes by Scotland Yard and the Home Office 1Sunday Times 6 March 1988 p.A14 it was actually based on the discredited theory proposed by Thomas E. A. Stowell and later expanded on by Stephen Knight in his book : The Final Solution (1976) in which the Ripper was “revealed” to be a Masonic conspiracy involving the British royal family. The same theory was used for the earlier film Murder by Decree (1979) and by writer Alan Moore for his graphic novel From Hell, subsequently filmed in 2001.

Plot Summary

Jack the Ripper is terrorising the East End of London and Inspector Frederick Abberline is charged with finding him. But as he investigates, he quickly realises that there's more going on that just the murder of East End .


Directed by: David Wickes
© Euston Films Limited MCMLXXXVIII [1988]
A Euston Films production. Thames, a Pearson Television company. In association with Hill-O'Connor Television and Lorimar Telepictures
Executive Producer: Lloyd Shirley, Robert O'Connor and Leonard Hill
Produced by: David Wickes
Associate Producer: Al Burgess
Production Manager: Ron Jackson
Production Coordinator: Lorraine Fennell
Written by: Derek Marlowe and David Wickes
Narrative Concept by: David Wickes
2nd Unit Director: Jack Lowen
1st Assistant Director: Ken Baker
2nd Assistant Director: Gerry Toomey
Script Supervisor/Continuity: Cheryl Leigh
Director of Photography: Alan Hume
2nd Unit Cameraman: Jack Lowen
Camera Operator: Martin Hume
Gaffer: Bob Bremner
Camera Grip: Jimmy Waters
Stills Photographer: Simon Mein
Editor: Keith Palmer
Music Composed, Arranged and Conducted by: John Cameron
Music Editor: Derek Trigg
Sound Recordist: Chris Munro
Boom Operator: Colin Wood
Sound Editor: Michael Crouch
Effects Editor: Len Tremble
Dubbing Mixer: John Hayward
Costume Designer: Raymond Hughes
Wardrobe Master: Paul Vachon
Chief Make-up Artist: Lois Burwell
Make-up Artists: Ken Lintott, Sally Evans, Sandra Exelby
Chief Hair Stylist: Betty Glassow
Hair Stylists: Stevie Hall, Elaine Bowerbank
Prosthetic Make-up Artists: Aaron& Maralyn Sherman
Production Designer: John Blezard
Art Director: Tony Reading
Set Decorator: Crispian Sallis
Property Buyer: Roger Hulme
Property Master: Arthur Wicks
Construction Manager: Bill Surridge
Production Controller: Bill Launder
Production Accountant: Duncan Stewart
Producer's Assistants: Sue Davis, Joanna Elferink
Unit Publicist: Wendy Tayler
Made on location [Belper, Derbyshire, England, UK] and at Pinewood Studios, London, England
Stunt Arranger: Peter Brayham
Casting: Maggie Cartier

Michael Caine (Chief Insp. Frederick Abberline)
Armand Assante (Richard Mansfield)
Ray McAnally (Sir William Gull)
Lewis Collins (Sergeant George Godley)
Ken Bones (Robert James Lees)
Susan George as Catherine Eddowes
Jane Seymour as Emma [Prentiss]
Harry Andrews (Coroner Wynne Baxter)
Lysette Anthony (Mary Jane Kelly)
Roger Ashton Griffiths (Rodman)
Peter Armitage (Sergeant Kerby)
Desmond Askew (copy boy)
Trevor Baxter (Lanyon)
Mike Carnell (newsvendor)
Ann Castle (Lady Gull)
Deirdre Costello (Annie Chapman)
Jon Croft (Mr Thackeray)
Angela Crow (Liz Stride)
Kelly Cryer (Annette)
Marc Culwick (Prince Albert Victor)
John Dair (Isenschmid)
Roy Evans (doorkeeper)
John Fletcher (P.C. Watkins)
Sheridan Forbes (Millie)
Hugh Fraser (Sir Charles Warren)
Martin Friend (newsvendor)
Christopher Fulford (Sergeant Brent/beggar)
Bruce Green (Pizer)
Rikki Harnet (pickpocket)
Ronald Hines (Henry Matthews)
Denys Hawthorne (Assistant Commissioner [Anderson])
Michael Hughes (Dr [Rees] Llewellyn)
Peter Hughes (Mr Paulson)
Frank Jarvis (1st passer by)
Edward Judd (DCS Arnold)
Gertan Klauber ([Louis] Diemschutz)
Jon Laurimore (Inspector [John T.] Spratling)
Mike Lewin (duty guard)
Rod Lewis (mortician)
Gary Love (Derek)
George Malpas (old man)
Eric Mason (publican)
Bernadette Milne (woman in doorway)
Jonathan Moore (Benjamin Bates)
Richard Morant (Dr [Theodore] Acland)
T.P. McKenna (O'Connor)
John Normington (dresser)
Ronald Nunnery (Davis)
Sandra Payne (Mrs Acland)
Neville Phillips (cabinet secretary)
Iain Rattray (tough cop)
David Ryall ([Thomas] Bowyer)
Gary Shail (pimp [Billy White])
Gerald Sim (Dr Bagster Phillips)
George Sweeney (John Netley)
David Swift (Lord Salisbury)
Norman Warwick (Richardson)
Brian Weske (porter)
Michael Gothard [George Lusk – uncredited]

Alternative Titles

Jack the Ripper – Das Ungeheuer von London – German title
Vera storia di Jack lo Squartatore, La – Italian title


The Independent 11 October 1988 p.29
David Wickes is also credited as providing ‘narrative concept'. Now what do you suppose one of those is? Could it be the decision to present everyone scrubbed and gelled like the cast of Dynasty, surrounded by tasteful squalor? Could it be the idea of having much talk about the dark and much emphasis on gas-lamps but lighting it as for brain surgery? Could it be the detailed emphasis on Victorians juxtaposed with a modem classlessness and lack of deference to hierarchy? Could it be the daft image of the driver, coach and horses all in black, like the One Horseman of the Apocalypse? The main concept is the casting of Michael Caine who coasts shrewdly as the inspector, street-smart and bottle-angry. He draws name actors even into tiny parts. A huge audience will lap up this glossy tosh. – from a review by W. Stephen Gilbert

The Scotsman 11 October 1988 p.14
British viewers have to suffer a screenplay, written by Wickes with Derek Marlowe, modernised and over-simplified for the lowest common denominator of the American audience, and a direction style of similar deliberation. It is plain through the first two hours tonight that, in addition to actors' fees, a lot of money has been spent on the look of the thing. From the houses of the grandees to the grim facilities of London's East End no detail has been stinted. As usual with our expensive period drama the clothes and the transport are just about perfect. The acting and direction varies uneasily between modern naturalism and Victorian melodrama. The black coach and horses with the Royal crest, presumably containing the suspect Duke of Clarence, has an almost supernatural aspect. […] As might be expected the best reason for watching is Mr Caine himself, magnetic even at the moments when he feels obliged to shout. “Who are you, you bastard?”, he inquires at one ruminative point of the absent Jack the Ripper. An actor who can get away with a line like that is worth his fee. – from a review by Sean Day-Lewis

Mail on Sunday 16 October 1988 p.35
[O]h my, what a delightful place London was in 1888! Thanks to the benign Conservative hand of Lord Salisbury, the sun shone on elegant villa and cheery tenement alike, pillar-boxes and trams were buffed to an iridescent sheen, the pubs were jolly, the nicks were comfy, the villains were waggish, the poor were plump and healthy. The ravishing tarts had clearly gone on the game only because it paid better than the cover of Vogue, and all the cab-horses were recent St. Leger winners (also so extraordinarily well-behaved you could eat your dinner off the spotless streets). Hardly surprising, then, that the Whitechapel murders should have caused such a stir, nor that the should have immediately suspected a loony heir to the throne, a schizophrenic American actor, and the Queen's bug-eyed clairvoyant – for who but a madman would have tainted Victoria's social paradise with such dastardly deeds? What hilarious tosh it all is! History's foulness laundered into music hall, Michael Caine as Inspector Albert Chevalier, Harry Andrews as Coroner George Robey, and Susan George as the corpse of Marie Lloyd. But – which is the object of the co-produced exercise – America will love it. – from a review by Alan Coren



  • Screen International no.o.621 (10 October 1987) p.24 – illustrated news item (Thames TV pulls off Ripper US pre-sale coup)
  • Screen International no.o.622 (17 October 1987) p.2 – news item (Caine hunts Ripper)
  • Television Today 8 October 1987 p.17 – new item (Warning as Thames cuts in US deal by Angela Thomas)
  • Television Today 15 October 1987 p.19 – new item (Caine for the ripper)


  • Daily Mirror 30 September 1988 pp.12-13 – illustrated article (The man who caught Jack the Ripper by Hilary Bonner)
  • The Independent 11 October 1988 p.29 – review (The Ripper Concept by W. Stephen Gilbert)
  • Mail on Sunday 16 October 1988 p.35 – review (by Alan Coren)
  • The Scotsman 11 October 1988 p.14 – review (by Sean Day-Lewis)
  • Sunday Times 6 March 1988 p.A14 – illustrated article (Jack the Ripper's open secret by Max Prangell)
  • Today 14 October 1988 – illustrated article (£1m seduces Caine into a ripping yarn by Lester Middlehurst); note (Unmasked at last)