This updated series of posts (first published last June in Who Etc. http://ecklefecken.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/ripper-and-whoniverse-part-1.html) examines how the Jack the Ripper canon has been depicted in Doctor Who media since that initial mention of ‘Jolly Jack’ in The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977), with particular emphasis on the novel, Matrix.
Written by Robert Perry and Mike Tucker, Matrix (BBC Books, 1998) features the return of the Valeyard, and offers yet another contribution, albeit fictional, to the pseudo-science that is Ripperology.
Firstly, some context. Recent interest in the Whitechapel Murders was renewed by the film From Hell (2001), and the case was re-assessed by the Discovery Channel’s interactive Trial of Jack the Ripper (2002), were James Maybrick – revealed as a suspect in 1992 – was found guilty by the audience/jury. Many theories and suspects have since been advanced in dozens of books. Even famous crime writer Patricia Cornwell (see Portrait of a Killer, Sphere, and BBC1′s Omnibus, both 2002) named noted Victorian artist Walter Sickert (first postulated by Stephen Knight in 1976, then by Jean Overton Fuller in 1990) as the Ripper, after spending millions of dollars on research. Two more suspects were revealed in 2005: The 21st Century Investigation (Trevor Marriott, Blake) provided Carl Feigenbaum, whilst Uncle Jack (Tony Williams/Humphrey Price, Orion) cited Sir John Williams. In 2010, co-authors David Monaghan and Nigel Cawthorne reasoned that a Victorian pornographer, known only as Walter, was the Ripper (Secret Confession, Skyhorse). Then last year Ripperologist Robert House supported a contemporary suspect, Aaron Kosminski (The Case for Scotland Yard’s Prime Suspect, Wiley), whilst Tom Slemen speculated that Jack was in fact a British Intelligence Agent (Bluecoat). Now, twenty years after the notorious Ripper ‘diary’ surfaced in Liverpool, the killer’s latest ‘memoirs’ also purport to provide his true identity (The Autobiography, James Carnac, Bantam). And the ‘Jill the Ripper’ theory – favoured by Conan Doyle, and first suggested by Inspector Abberline himself – is examined again in yet another new book, The Hands of a Woman (John Morris, Seren). The first series of ITV1′s excellent Whitechapel (2009) even dramatised the murders of a modern-day Ripper copycat. The aftermath of the “Autumn of Terror” is also explored in the forthcoming BBC drama, Ripper Street. Finally, the most recent TV documentaries on the subject were: Killer Revealed (Discovery, 11/10/09), Tabloid Killer (24/6/10), and The Definitive Story (11 & 20/1/11) – both for Channel Five – and Marriott’s The German Suspect on National Geographic just last week.
Matrix establishes that the infamous murders of 1888 resulted in a bloody revolution (as was feared by the establishment at the time) that caused an alternate timeline, where, by 1966, London is under US-controlled quarantine. The city is beseiged by the walking dead and street-gangs who worship Jack. Here the Doctor and Ace encounter a local couple. Ian and Barbara, who never met Susan Foreman. They and the visiting American President, John F Kennedy, are killed by zombies, and the Doctor determines to put recorded history back on track.
TO BE CONTINUED