To accuse ‘Whitechapel’ of being contrived and nonsensical is to identify two major reasons for its surprisingly long-lived appeal. But this fourth series might just prove to be the tipping point.
The core trio of straight-arrow copper Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones), gnarled veteran Miles (Phil Davis) and crime writer Buchan (Steve Pemberton) have become supporting players to an endless parade of hackneyed editing techniques and tiresome shock tactics that are now more irritating than funny. Too bad, as the central story, in its blending of ancient and modern, shows real promise: a tramp is horribly murdered in a case bearing the hallmarks both of medieval witchhunters and Cold War spies.
But, for a series which once felt so surefooted, ‘Whitechapel’ is now blundering down a blind alley where, we suspect, ITV bigwigs may be waiting with sharpened knives if ratings decline in line with the quality.
Ordering dishes was simpler in the old days. Proper menus had starters, main courses, then desserts. Only children, the infirm and johnny foreigner ate small portions. But now, every restaurant in London has a ‘small plates’ menu. Urban sophisticates no longer go out for a slap-up three-course meal; they head to filament-bulb-lit hangouts to graze as they text, tweet and take selfies. How did this happen? As the British of the pallid hinterlands supersize themselves with ready-meals eaten in front of ‘MasterChef’, Londoners are going to the other extreme, nibbling and foraging and table-hopping like rabid bunnies. The small plates menu is, however, nothing new. The Spanish call it tapas; the Turks call it mezze; we all call it yummy. It’s not often you see an Italian chef embrace small portions, but that’s exactly what Neapolitan Eduardo Tuccillo has done at this charming little Marylebone restaurant. Rather than stick to southern-Italian dishes, he’s mixed it up a bit with Spanish and other Mediterranean influences. The freshly-made pasta was perfect – firm and unevenly shaped fettuccine perfectly slathered with a creamy mushroom sauce heady with truffle. Seafood is a strength, with fat and juicy prawns cooked the Spanish way, a la plancha, with chilli and garlic, then served on a purée of jerusalem artichoke – an inspired combination. Squid was char-grilled but still pert, a dash of its ink painted on the plate. There are also Spanish and Italian cheeses and charcuterie