Ripper Street

Final season of Ripper Street coming to BBC Two

Richard Warlow - Writer and Creator

Saying goodbye to this world of Ripper Street and its characters is going to be a very strange thing; it's been five years of my life writing this show, and it's fair to say it's completely dominated every aspect of my life for that period.Richard Warlow
Date: 13.06.2017     Last updated: 13.06.2017 at 00.01
Category: BBC Two; Drama

What can we expect from Series 5 of Ripper Street?

All of our characters are going to reach the conclusions of their journeys, which started four or five years ago in Series 1. Obviously where we pick them up in Series 5 is a slightly different place than where we've ever picked up our characters before, not least because we are picking the story up literally days after the end of the events of the previous series, whereas in the past we've always liked to pick up stories years later. In this it's very much a continuation of the events which brought Series 4 to a close, so we should expect to find our heroes in a much more of an immediately precarious position. And by the end of the series we should expect them to have either resolved that precarious situation or have been defeated by it.

Where do we find our main characters at the beginning of this Series?

Our heroes are now on the run, having watched Bennet Drake breathe his last in the catacombs beneath the North side of the London Docks.

What has changed in Reid's life since Series 4?

Edmund Reid finds himself at the beginning of Series 5 in a situation which I'm sure he could never possibly have imagined: he is hunted by the force that he has been such a loyal servant of for so many years. This is due to his involvement in the events which led to the death of Bennet Drake, and also because of moments during the past, events which we've witnessed during previous series of Ripper Street, whereby he has perhaps overextended his role as a lawman and brought about the deaths of various characters who we have come to know in the past. Most notably the character of Theodore Swift, Long Susan's father: Drake, Reid, Jackson and Long Susan participated in his imprisonment and eventual death, and it's the discovery of that which has enabled Augustus Dove to turn the tables on our heroes and cast them as outlaws who must now be hunted.

What has changed in Jackson's life since Series 4?

I think he's still coming to terms with the idea that he's a father and that is an essential goal for him throughout the series. So much of his ingenuity and relish for the fight is directed towards trying to become a family unit rather than being an individual man pursuing his own passions and desires. I think for Jackson pretty much everything is different; I guess out of our trio of heroes he's the one who's most used to living life outside the law and having to duck and dive and hide in the shadows, so he's obviously got the skills required to manoeuvre when the law comes looking for him.

What has changed in Long Susan's life since Series 4?

Long Susan is in this situation when we find her where her life has been reprieved already, so she's effectively living a resurrected existence as it is, which is a theme that crops up quite a lot across the series; there are a lot of people who have passed through a near death experience and returned to the life of the show. So Long Susan is pretty galvanised to make good on this extension of her life that she's been given, but very much the focus for her and for Jackson is their son. That's rather different for the show and something that I've really enjoyed is watching the two of them managing their see-sawing affection and disapproval of each other into a position where they have to be a mother and father.

Can you tell us about Shine and how he fits into Whitechapel?

There’s always a place for Shine in Whitechapel and always a place for him in the world of Ripper Street; I think he's very much my favourite villain of the past few series, and I think that's borne out by reactions that the paying public have to the show: he's always fondly remembered. Joseph Mawle is a fantastic actor whose played the part with such relish before. Also in terms of the way we're telling the story whereby our heroes are now living outside the law and are hunted by the police, it was important to personify those police with a character who could really take centre stage and enjoy the relish of pursuing Edmund Reid. And it felt like a really natural decision to bring Shine back from the wilderness and give him that task of flushing Reid out from his hiding place: watching those two big beasts face each other off is going to provide for some of the most memorable scenes of the whole show ever.

Can you tell us about Nathaniel and his attempts to live a quiet existence?

So the character of Nathaniel's very important: he's somebody who embodies a lot of the central themes of Ripper Street. In terms of his actions he’s pretty unforgivably bad, but Ripper Street wouldn't be Ripper Street if it didn't try and engage with the reasons why he's like that and try and propose to the story ways in which he might not be like that. So what's been really interesting for this series is to take that character and put him in a position where he's conscious of the things he's done and is for a moment offered an opportunity to live differently. This series really engages with the idea of what might life have been like: what might my life have been like had these things not happened to me, and had I been given a second chance to live differently? And I think in Nathaniel we get a chance to really explore that character and find out his true heart break and the events of his life which have led him to this place and how that might have been different. That particularly applies to his relationship with Augustus Dove, who is probably the great axis villain of both Series 4 and Series 5.

Tell us about how Ripper Street has evolved since Series 1. Do these final episodes feel different?

So Ripper Street's been through a long and protracted journey since its first series, which we first started shooting four years ago now. And here we are now five series later and as all things, it has evolved from the show that we first pitched to the BBC and the BBC commissioned into thirty-seven hours of television later, in which it's a show that is sold to over a hundred and fifty territories around the world, and which is now backed by Amazon. What it's meant for us is that what started off as very much an episodic crime show in which every week our hero detectives would investigate a particular crime that represented the world of Victorian East London, has evolved as the characters have evolved. It’s now something which is a much more deeply rooted study in both its protagonists and its environment. Now we're getting to Series 5 which is really one story in effect made up out of six episodes, which is the concluding part to the events which led through Series 4. So in a way I think it's probably fair to look at Series 4 and 5 as a thirteen hour run of one story with various different elements in it.

What will it be like to bid farewell to Ripper Street and all its characters?

Saying goodbye to this world of Ripper Street and its characters is going to be a very strange thing; it's been five years of my life writing this show, and it's fair to say it's completely dominated every aspect of my life for that period. But I think it's something that I'm ready for and pretty willing to embrace. It's been very cathartic writing these stories that send our characters off into the twentieth century and into the rest of their lives; I feel pretty ready to wish them well and say goodbye to them. Most of all I think it's going to be very sad not seeing the people that we make the show with; cast and crew, many of whom have been with us since Spring 2012, and got to know really well, and various personalities that have affected the way I work and the way the show works and the way the stories are told. It's been a wonderful experience, but one that's ready to come to an end now.

What has it been like to start and finish the Ripper Street Story with the same crew?

One of the great privileges of working on Ripper Street has been the fact that from the very first day cameras rolled, many of the key people who take creative responsibility for how the show works and is run and how we tell our stories have been in place since that very first day and are here wandering around on set and these last few days together five years later, that's very unusual in my experience, to be able to grow together and evolve a show together through that period of time. One of the things I feel particularly proud of is that our key cast weren't contractually tied down to be in the show any further than the end of Series 2, and yet here they all are, all the key people, the people we haven't killed at least are here with us to celebrate at the end of this period. It means that there's a very easy line of communication and that quite complicated and sophisticated ideas about character development and how they play can be communicated and achieved, and that's purely because of this kind of friendship and knowledge of each other's personality and what we're all trying to achieve together. And I think that's true of directors who have come back time and again, production design, costume, makeup, script team, many of whom have been with me right from the beginning; it's a very unique situation and I think it makes for a compelling working environment where we all drive each other on to greater things and it makes for great story-telling.