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Whitechapel

Whitechapel

Wed Sep 11, 9-10pm, ITV

By Phil Harrison
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Series four, episode two
‘We’re looking for a modern day Matthew Hopkins.’ Of course you are, DI Chandler. Given that Whitechapel is described as ‘the gates of hell’ in this episode, why wouldn’t it need its own Witchfinder General?

This latest east London tale isn’t lacking in intrigue. And the performances, from Rupert Penry-Jones, Phil Davis and Steve Pemberton among others, remain very watchable. But ‘Whitechapel’ needs to remember that sometimes less is more. Everything is usually in danger of being drowned out by a schlock-horror approach which, ironically, removes any possibility of real spookiness manifesting itself.

As the case moves through a witches’ circle, a nasty case of rye poisoning and the vagrants’ code, there’s actually plenty to enjoy. Or there would be if the presentational and directorial gimmicks and shortcuts didn’t make it so damned hard to watch.
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