Monday, 10 October 2016

The Ripper and the Whoniverse, Part 4 [Revised]

 After my examination of the novel Matrix, the 
next step is to look at the further references to 
Jack the Ripper in Doctor Who media, since The Talons of Weng-Chiang was first shown in 1977.

The serial opens as nine women (not specified here in 
a family drama as prostitutes), including Emma Buller, 
have now gone missing in East London. The action 
seems to be set soon after the 'Autumn of Terror' as 
Casey, the stagehand at the Palace Theatre, refers to
'Jolly Jack' (all mention of the Ripper is omitted from Terrance Dicks' novelisation). In the draft script, 
Casey added that the recent disappearances can't 
be the Ripper's work because he "is in Canada". This
 remark alludes to Prince Albert Victor, a suspect in the 
Royal conspiracy theory, advanced in Stephen Knight's book, The Final Solution, published just months before
 the story was broadcast (the Prince actually embarked 
on a seven month tour of India from October 1889). 
The events of Talons must therefore occur between
late 1889 and early 1892, when the Prince died 
(however, during part four, Litefoot is seen reading the February 1892 edition of Blackwood's Magazine).

Location filming for the serial took place in Wapping, whilst it's supposed setting
of Limehouse (just east of Whitechapel) housed a large Chinese community in Victorian times, and was also the site of Fu Manchu's hideout in the books of 
Sax Rohmer (the pen name of Arthur Henry Ward) - surely another influence for writer Robert Holmes. The opium dens of Limehouse - seen here as the final 
refuge of Li H'Sen Chang - inspired many other writers like Dickens, and featured
in the From Hell graphic novel (1991-96, 1999) and film (2001).
Novels The Shadow of Weng-Chiang (David McIntee/Virgin, 1996) and The Bodysnatchers (Mark Morris/BBC, 1997) both set a date of 1889* for Talons 
(the character of Professor Litefoot returns in the latter novel, wherein companion Sam Jones asks the Eighth Doctor if he knows the Ripper's identity). The back
cover blurb on the Talons script book (Titan, 1989) quotes "London in the 1880's"
as a setting.
Knight's thesis that Queen Victoria's own physician, Sir William Gull (1816-
1890) was the Ripper (expanded from Dr. Thomas Stowell's 1970 article in 
The Criminologist) has been perpetuated by two Jack the Ripper TV drama 
series (BBC, 1973 and Thames, 1988), and the films Murder by Decree (1979),
The Ripper (1997), and From Hell.
Nigel Robinson's novel Birthright (Virgin, 1993) is set in the London of 1909. 
Here, more grisly murders in the East End are apparently the work of the legendary 'Spring Heeled Jack' who first terrorised the capital in the 1830's. Again the seventh Doctor exposes the real killers - the insectoid Chaarl, and Ace even visits Hanbury Street, scene of the second Ripper murder [2].
This flying fiend always evaded capture, and the last account of this 'Jack' came
in 1904 when he leapt over the roofs of Everton in Liverpool, to escape yet again. 
The second season of Luther (BBC, 2011) featured the 'Punch' killer who is obsessed with this other Victorian bogeyman. The recent ITV series, Houdini 
and Doyle also saw the titular investigators' account of the urban legend.
The Doctor Who play Hellblossom (2000, 2002, 2010) also features an alien 
'Spring Heeled Jack', here revealed as the Hybrid. Similarly, in two versions of Johnny Byrne's The Time Lord scripts (1988-90), the Doctor (disguised
as a prostitute) dispatches the Ripper, in reality the shape-shifting Weazll.
In Excelis Rising (also from McIntee/Big Finish, 2002) a parallel series of murders took place on the planet Artaris. Grayvorn tells the Doctor that the "Eastern slums prostitute murderer was identified and hanged.. the murders stopped". This reflects yet another theory that the sudden cessation of the real slayings was the result of the Ripper's capture, and the truth covered-up.
The seventh Doctor was present in Whitechapel prior to Matrix, in The Pit (Neil Penswick/Virgin, 1993). Here, his companion, the poet William Blake, discovers 
the date of their arrival from the Evening News. The headline for September 30th 1888 reads: "Jack the Ripper strikes again" which presumably reports the 'double event' of that morning. Stride [3] however is only murdered later on in the book. Then, lost in the alleyways, Blake sees the killer armed with his knife and is scared 
off by a policeman. Later in the Old Nags Head pub, Blake hears of another murder and proceeds to Berner Street, where the Doctor examines the victim, Stride, and concludes that the killing seems to be ritualistic. They soon encounter the real 
culprits - the fanatical Fellowship, who sacrificed the women, a nod to the actual Masonic links of the Royal conspiracy.

TO BE CONTINUED

KEY Canonical Murders:
[1] Mary Ann Nicholls - Buck's Row, Friday August 31st 1888
[2] Annie Chapman - Hanbury St. Saturday September 8th
[3] Elizabeth Stride - Berner St. Sunday September 30th
[4] Catherine Eddowes - Mitre Square, also September 30th
[5] Mary Jane Kelly - Miller's Court, Friday November 9th

*this date is also posited by Lance Parkin in The History of the Universe 
(Virgin, 1996 and Mad Norwegian Press, 2006)

No comments:

Post a Comment