Despite its tumultuous history, the fifth and final series of Ripper Street has reached our screens. Susan Griffin finds out what you need to know about the conclusive chapter

Ripper Street's back this month for a fifth and final series, which was always the intention of show creator Richard Warlow, but back in 2013 this looked unlikely when the BBC pulled the plug after two series.

Dismayed with the decision, the show's loyal fan base got busy with a petition and the online streaming service Amazon Prime Instant Video stepped in, agreeing to make a third series and later giving the green light for a further two.

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It was only a matter of time before the BBC realised they had made a mistake and agreed to air the Victorian drama about cops and crooks once again.

"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," comments Warlow, who has written for Waking The Dead and Mistresses.

"From the beginning when I began writing, I had in mind a five series arc, ending with us sending our characters off into the 20th century. I'm immensely proud we have been able to tell the story as we hoped, and equally proud that such a huge number of the original cast and the creative team have been involved every step of the way."


Series four introduced a new serial killer to the streets, the Whitechapel Golem. Convinced the murderer's cannibalistic crimes were being covered up by another party, DI Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and DI Drake's (Jerome Flynn) investigation pointed to a trail of corruption that led them right to the heart of Scotland Yard, specifically Assistant Commissioner Augustus Dove (Killian Scott) and his bestial brother Nathaniel Dove (Jonas Armstrong). During an attempt to bring down the Dove brothers, Drake lost his life to serial killer Nathaniel.


The final chapter begins just days after Drake's grisly demise with DI Reid, surgeon Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) and his wife, the former brothel keeper "Long" Susan Hart (MyAnna Buring) determined to bring Drake's murderer to justice. But the three of them, hunted down by Dove for the extra-judicial killing of Long Susan's father, Theodore Swift, are discovering that revealing the truth is not going to be easy. With a barbarous killer on the loose and a corrupt lawman leading the police force, DI Reid faces his toughest challenge yet. Will he finally be able to restore peace and justice to Whitechapel?


Aside from the trio at the centre of the storyline, other key cast members will be making an appearance before the curtains close. Here's who:

Jedediah Shine (Joseph Mawle) - The amoral K Division Chief who was beaten up by Drake in series two on Reid's command has since self-medicated with opium and cocaine. Accepting Dove's offer to now assume the role of Head of H Division, he wears his corruption as a badge of honour and is determined to find Reid at all costs.

Desk Sergeant Samuel Drummond (Matthew Lewis) - His relationship with Reid's daughter, Mathilda, is cause for much amusement amongst his colleagues. When Shine and his cohorts arrive on the scene, his perception of true justice is set to be turned on its head

DS Frank Thatcher (Benjamin O'Mahony) - He's man who's not afraid to use his fists but has also employed a more sensitive approach to policing. Under Shine's leadership, he has to decide which approach will win out.

Mimi Morton (Lydia Wilson) - When we last saw Mimi, she'd been dumped by Jackson so he could return to his wife, Long Susan. Despite the heartache, she's agreed to help him, and the woman he left her for, when they arrive seeking refuge, although Reid has reservations as to her intentions.

Mathilda Reid (Anna Burnett) - The daughter of Reid experienced a traumatic childhood and is now forced to confront difficult truths about her fugitive father and question everything she believed to be true about him.

"I'm going to miss playing Long Susan terribly, I love her, I think she's fantastic," says Buring, 37 who's appeared in the Twilight franchise. "I think Richard and Toby [Finlay] and all the other writers have really given her the most extraordinary journey. She started out very much an incredibly tough human being who saw business opportunities around her and took them and often her business opportunities would involve her doing some kind of good alongside making money. She's gone from being a brothel madam, to being forced herself into prostitution, becoming an entrepreneur, going to prison, becoming pregnant, becoming a mother, becoming a fugitive. I mean the journey's been huge and amazing and I think it's very rare that you get to go on such an extreme journey with a character."

Rothenberg believes Jackson is the responsible one in series five. "I think there's always been an inkling of that. It sometimes has been misguided, or more often than not it's completely backfired, but I don't think he's as selfish as people have made him out to be," remarks the actor, 41, who says there's a different feel to the final series.

"The show started out almost purely crime of the week and you'd have a little bit of long-form intrigue, and then progressively it became quite equal and I think it came to a point where the story of the week would then start to serve the longer story of the characters, and now this year is completely one tale to be told. Plus it's over for the characters in the story, it's over for the actors, so there's a kind of a sweet kind of sadness I think creeping in."

"It's been lovely to tell the whole story, and have the chance to do that because Ripper Street's had a sort of quite a rocky ride," remarks Macfadyen, 42, who appeared in the long-running series Spooks.

"We did the second series and then it was cancelled and then it was revived and then we thought perhaps we would leave it at the end of series three and then we were asked to do more and actually it's sort of revealed itself into one wonderful big story. It feels very much like we've come back to the beginning, certainly in the last episode. It's just a beautifully written episode; so it's felt extremely satisfying creatively to be able to do that."

Ripper Street returns to BBC Two on Monday, June 19