Some rather good bits on Ripper Street episode 3. None of it looks like Victorian Whitechapel of course, and which bit of the City of London were our Metropolitan Police officers straying into in search of Joseph Lister. What’s interesting is the ragbag of genuinely Victorian tropes.The constant visiting of ‘King Cholera’ to the East End of London, and the focusing on the pump delivering poisoned water (or not as it transpired) harkening back to the discoveries of John Snow at the pump in Broad (now Broadwick) Street in Soho, some years before. Cholera had previously been thought to have been transmitted by foul air of course, exactly as malaria (bad air) was believed to be transmitted.
We also had the Lady Bountiful, happy to give alms to the fallen women of Whitechapel, as long as the word of God was thrashed into them, and their sins were bled out. The flour mill heiress’s bitterness at her husband, who had infected her with syphilis picked up from the prostitutes of Whitechapel, thus rendering her sterile, was also a real touch … many ‘respectable’ Victorian women had to cover their shame at just such an event. And the infection via ergot and poisoned flour, common throughout Europe in the Middle Ages and beyond, with victims tortured by ‘St Anthony’s Fire’ and suffering LSD type trips before … well dying, was another nice historical touch. What does next week have in store?