The Ripper and the Whoniverse, Part 4

This post follows my examination of the novel Matrix, and looks at the further Jack the Ripper links in Doctor Whomedia since The Talons of Weng-Chiang was first broadcast in 1977.
The serial opens as eight women (not specified here as  prostitutes), including Emma Buller, have now gone missing in East London, and the action seems to be set soon after the ‘Autumn of Terror’ as Casey refers to ‘Jolly Jack’. In the draft script, Casey added that the recent disappearances can’t be the Ripper’s work because he’s 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.
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 (surely another influence for writer Robert Holmes). The opium dens of Limehouse – seen here as the final refuge of Li H’Sen Chang – inspired Dickens, and featured in the From Hell novel (1991-96, 1999) and film (2001).
Both books, The Shadow of Weng-Chiang (David McIntee/Virgin, 1996) and The Bodysnatchers (Mark Morris/BBC, 1997) set a date of 1889 for Talons (the character of Professor Litefoot returns in the latter novel, wherein Sam asks the Eigth Doctor if he knows the Ripper’s identity).
Knight’s thesis that Queen Victoria’s own physician, Sir William Gull 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. 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 2011 series of Luther on BBC1 featured the ‘Punch’ killer who is obsessed with this other Victorian bogeyman).
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) despatches the Ripper, in reality the shape-shifting Weazll.
In Excelis Rising (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 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 Neil Penswick’s The Pit (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.


 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

About ecklefecken

Whovian/Pethead/Tartan Noir reader/Ripperologist/Blogger
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