Dublin quays to stand in for Whitechapel in Jack the Ripper drama


THE BBC is to make a major eight-part period drama about the hunt for Jack the Ripper entirely in Dublin.

The streets of Clancy Quays in Islandbridge, near Heuston Station, will fill in for the streets of Whitechapel in the East End of London for the series, which the BBC hopes will rival the success of Sherlock,which recently attracted eight million viewers in the UK and has been a major success in the United States.

Ripper Streetwill be worth an estimated €8 million to the Irish audiovisual sector and will employ 250 people directly and indirectly when filming starts in mid-March.

The series is expected to star actor Matthew Macfadyen in the main role as a detective leading the ultimately unsuccessful hunt for the Ripper, who murders at least five women in Whitechapel in 1888.

Clancy Quay is the site of one of the most ambitious developments of the Celtic Tiger area, which started development in 2007 just as the economy turned and was due to contain 700 apartments, cafes, local shops, a pub, restaurants, a creche, a medical centre and a hotel.

Last year the developers were given a further five years to complete it. Part of the old barracks has been preserved as an old street and much of the filming will centre around it. The series is being made by Tiger Aspect Productions, Lookout Productions and Irish-based company Element Pictures.

Element Pictures co-director Ed Guiney said London-based Tiger Aspect had extensive experience of filming in Dublin having shot Murphy’s Lawand The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypsehere.

“The East End of London doesn’t exist in London any more,” he said. “It’s not like Whitechapel is the way it was back in the 1880s.”

In addition, the BBC will film part of the second series of the comedy police drama Vexedin Ireland. The series, which received mixed reviews when it was first broadcast, is directed by Irish directors Kieron J Walsh and Ian Fitzgibbon. It will be worth €3 million in pre-production.

Irish Film Board chief executive James Hickey said the BBC’s decision to film two major series in Ireland vindicated the Government’s decision to retain section 481 tax breaks for television productions.

He also stated that the film board was able to attract major productions to Ireland because of the €750,000 international fund it had set up to attract such productions as Ripper Streetand Vexed.

“We arranged for a delegation of UK broadcasters and distributors to come over to Ireland. It was a combination of the offer of funding and also the delegations that have developed relationships which resulted in these productions coming to Ireland,” he said.

Mr Hickey said the fact that 18 Irish films, funded by the Irish Film Board, were to be released this year showed the industry was in a good state despite the recession. They include Neil Jordan’s latest film Byzantium, which is set in an English seaside town but is filmed in Wicklow and Dublin. It stars former “Bond girl” Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan.

Violent crime drama Charlie Casanova,which has already won a slew of awards, will be shown later this year along with Life’s a Breeze, featuring Pat Shortt in his first lead role in a film since the acclaimed Garage.