'Ripper Street' goes electronic, saves paper
Victorian crime drama stars Matthew Macfadyen.
Thu, Jan 17 2013 at 1:38 PM
Photo: Tiger Aspect/Jonathan Hession
It may be set in Victorian England, but the BBC America drama "Ripper Street," premiering Jan. 19, has embraced the modern practice of electronic script distribution. "Nowadays it's so much easier to sent to your iPad as opposed to using paper," says executive producer Will Gould, also noting that they chose an area of Dublin to shoot in because half the street we needed already existed; we just built the other half. In general, productions are more aware now than was the case five years ago. [Eco-awareness] is definitely on our agenda, and season two will be even better."
The eight-episode series is set in the 1888 in London's East End in the aftermath of Jack the Ripper's grisly reign of terror, and the police, haunted by their failure to catch him, still have plenty of murders to solve. It's a procedural with several ongoing storylines, and has a modern sensibility. Inspector Edmund Reid, played by Matthew Macfadyen (pictured above), "was always convinced that if tomorrow's technology had been here today, they would have got the Ripper. They just didn't have the resources. That was a big cloud hanging over them," says Gould.
Macfadyen, known for films like "Anna Karenina," "Pride & Prejudice," "The Three Musketeers," and "Death at a Funeral" and a familiar face on TV starting with his debut in "Wuthering Heights" in 1998 through recent vehicles "Mi5" and "The Pillars of the Earth," has many period dramas to his credit but is more concerned with script than setting, and was drawn to "Ripper Street" for that reason. "The writing was fantastic and I found Reid fascinating. He wasn't stock detective character. He's a very free‑thinking, forward‑looking kind of man, not a jaded 'seen it all' copper. I was intrigued by that, and I thought it was very fresh and interesting."
The setting and costumes helped him get into character. "It wasn't a great feat of the imagination because we had this fantastic set. With the Victoria streets and sets it was very easy to get into the world," says Macfadyen. Although "it was kind of a love-hate relationship with those starched collars, I really, really loved my hat."