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I TALK Ripper Street (Series 2)

When Ripper Street first came onto our screens on 30 December 2012, the reaction was split.

The representation of women was described as "two-dimensional" and there was disappointment over how the women in Ripper Street were either repressed wives and mothers or prostitutes.

The gory nature of the script and the violence at 9pm on a Sunday were also aspects of the show that were heavily criticised. But there was one thing that united all critics, and that was that as the series went on it got better and better. We got to learn more about the back stories of the characters and when the last series ended I couldn't wait for there to be a second.

And in a great turn of events, the final episode of series one left viewers wanting more and every day since on Twitter talk of the new series has been rife. Luckily a second series was commissioned and returns to BBC One this Monday, less than a year since the end of series one.

Series two takes place in 1890, and whilst Jack The Ripper is an even further distant memory than it was in 1889 in the first series, the job of preventing Whitechapel from descending into hell is become tougher than ever for Inspector Edmund Reid, Captain Homer Jackson and Sergeant Bennet Drake, who thankfully are all back for the new series.Also back are the gruesome scenes, the violence and the brilliant backdrop of late 19th Century Whitechapel. I'm really pleased that producers haven't let the "too much gore" comments from the first series impact on how series two will play out.

In fact, series two opens exactly how I wanted it to - with a fast-paced punch-up leaving officers bruised and bloodied. And if that wasn't enough, an officer runs into H-Division shouting that "a man lies  impaled on iron railings..." a copper.

We then cut to a great scene where the man in question is screaming in agony as he is caught on the iron railings trying to break free. As to be expected, the streets is full of people watching and creating a scene but nobody actually has any idea how to break him free. That is of course until Reid, Jackson and Drake turn up and subsequent scenes are far from easy on the eye.

The cast play a massive part in making Ripper Street the triumph that it is. Praised the world over for their performances during the last series, I'm thrilled that Matthew Macfadyen, Adam Rothenberg and Jerome Flynn are all returning, with some notable changes to their character.

Still led by Inspector Edmund Reid (Macfadyen), who this time around finds himself very much alone in the world, choosing to sleep most nights on the day-bed in his office, leaving his home filthy and unattended.

The fallout from his failure to catch Jack the Ripper, the loss of his daughter, and now it seems his wife too, will always haunt him. But with Whitechapel falling apart at the seams, thinking about the past may not be the best idea. But without his wife Emily, at his side, Reid wrestles personal demons of guilt and isolation.

Then there's Captain Homer Jackson (Rothenberg), who at first glance perhaps, seems tamed. Known for his womanising in the first series, these days he seems to have re-committed to to his wife 'Long' Susan Hart (played by Myanna Buring).

No longer bound by the need to keep a low profile, Jackson begins to question the the suitability of Whitechapel as a place to call home.

Also returning is Sergeant Bennet Drake (Flynn), who in the new series has finally found the domestic security he has always craved, getting married to Bella (Gillian Saker), the young woman whom he saved from the gip of trafficker Victor Silver at the end of the last series.

And as the 19th century enters its final decade, recession strikes Great Britain (Sound familiar? Yep, thought so.), and nowhere feels these problems more than the East End of London.

In the first episode, things are more chaotic and lawless than ever for H Division, as we are introduced to the newly emergent Chinatown of the Limehouse dockside, a place where violence knows no boundaries - all signs that a new kind of hell is about to released onto the streets of Whitechapel.

I've now seen the first two episodes in the new series of Ripper Street, and if you couldn't already tell - I absolutely love Ripper Street. The new series is able to play on the strengths of the first series and as we already know the characters, the story lines are bigger and better than ever. Although it may be too early to call, I'd go as far as to say that the new series is a step up from the already very high standard of the first series. I love the way it looks, the way it feels, the stories it tells, and the characters we encounter. So here's to the rest of series two, and hopefully I'll be back here next year talking about series three!

Ripper Street returns Mondays at 9pm on BBC One


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