Ripper Street Returns February 22nd! Matthew MacFayden Talks Season Two!


H Division was formed after the serial murders by Jack the Ripper to bring to justice the worst of the worst kind of criminals. The second season of Ripper Street sees the men of H Division pushed to their limits as they track down a new drug scourge, a female gang with an unusual target, a mad eugenicist who preys on circus freaks, and more.

Ripper Street returns to BBC America on February 22nd (9/8C). Follow the jump for more details – along with an interview with series lead Matthew MacFayden, who plays Detective Inspector Edmund Reid, and episode and cast descriptions.

New York – January 21, 2014 –East London. 1890. The long shadow of Jack the Ripper may be gone, but the job of protecting London’s Whitechapel district has never been harder for Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew MacFayden, Anna Karenina) and his loyal deputies Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn, Game of Thrones) and Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg, Elementary). As the century enters its final decade, recession stalks Great Britain. Its preeminent role in the world is under threat and nowhere is the bloated British Empire’s problems felt more keenly than in its dark heart: the East End of London. The Metropolitan Police’s H Division must battle new evils that threaten to disrupt the delicate peace struck at the end season one.  David Costabile (Breaking Bad, The Wire), Damien Molony (Being Human), Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones) and Leanne Best (Wire in the Blood) join the cast for season two. BBC AMERICA’s Ripper Street premieres Saturday, February 22, 9:00pm ET/PT.

Against a society in rapid decline, the men of H Division take on new crimes including a new drug scourge of an imperial nature, a female gang set on vengeance against their industrial tormentors, escaped bombers, subversive cult Svengalis and a mad eugenicist that stalks the circus freak shows for prey – an investigation that brings the elusive “Elephant Man” (Joseph Drake, Doctors) to their aid. These new threats will test Reid and his allies to their very limit, all while facing corruption in their own ranks from the neighboring force of Limehouse’s K Division, and its formidable and entirely amoral leader, Detective Inspector Jedediah Shine (Joseph Mawle).

The team faces challenges on the home front too. Without his wife Emily to anchor him, Reid wrestles personal demons of guilt and isolation. Drake has a new wife; but in committing to her, may have lost the brutal intensity that was a hallmark of his policing. Jackson, no longer bound by the need to keep a low profile, questions the suitability of Whitechapel as a place to call home while ‘Long’ Susan Hart (Myanna Buring, Downton Abbey) struggles to protect her brothel on Tenter Street and livelihood from the secret debt she owes the ruthless moneylender, Silas Duggan.

The past is gone but our heroes need to find a way to come to terms with a new present in order to combat the ever-shifting menace of life on the Whitechapel frontline.

Guest stars this season also include Paul Kaye (2,000 Acres of Sky, Game of Thrones) as Gabriel Cain, Neve McIntosh (Doctor Who) as Raine, Gina Bellman (Coupling) as Jemima Swan and James Wilby (Maurice, Clapham Junction) as Charles Broadwick. 




Where do we pick up with Reid in season two?

When we pick up with Reid he’s no longer with his wife, who has left home, and the audience discovers why during the first episode. They had a very traumatic end to the first series and he’d given her false hope that he’d found their missing daughter. It turned out it wasn’t her and so that was pretty hard for them both and their marriage dissolved. Anyway, he’s on his own and his house is a mess. He sleeps at the office in Leman Street most nights and he’s in quite a lonely and dark place but as always he throws himself into his work and that’s his constant salvation.

What can we expect to see in season two?

There’s a bunch of great stuff. Joseph Merrick (The Elephant Man) makes an appearance. We witness the beginnings of Chinatown in the East End and the Triads make an appearance. You’ve got eugenics, which was a very strange branch of science which was popular for a while. There’s Fenian terrorism too there were a lot of bombings. There is an episode that deals with that – there’s lots of gripping stuff.


On the subject of the Elephant Man?

I was delighted to hear that Joseph Merrick was in it. I was intrigued first of all by the idea of the Elephant Man featuring in Ripper Street and then thrilled by the prospect of it.  It works very well because he was there at the London Hospital under the care of Frederick Treves, the great surgeon. When Merrick wanted to go on excursions, the men from H Division would be his bodyguards and look after him so it’s perfectly conceivable that Reid would have known him.

How have the characters progressed in season two?

I think that there’s always lots to mine for all the characters and I think that they get closer with each other. Sergeant Drake, for example, is played by Jerome and he has found happiness in his life with Bella. It’s interesting because there’s a reverse side of the coin. Reid has nobody and Drake’s got someone and so that’s an interesting dynamic. Jackson has found domestic happiness with ‘Long’ Susan over on Tenter Street. Yeah, it’s interesting.  The three of us have such an interesting dynamic because it’s always ‘two and one’ so that’s always changing and always changeable.

Has Reid and Drake’s relationship changed in season two?

It’s an interesting dynamic, it’s changed. I think Drake has found peace and domestic bliss.  He’s happy with Bella, at first he is anyway…

How does Reid cope with the pressures of his life?

I think he just copes, it’s his job. He’s under great pressure but that’s his job.  It’s dramatically very interesting because Whitechapel was small. The area they are policing is a small square mile with 70,000 people crammed into it, so there’s dire poverty and all the rest of it.  It’s a big job…


What was your impression upon reading the scripts for season two?

It’s just very exciting to get scripts with Richard’s name on them because he’s so clever and he’s so talented, such a brilliant writer. Also Toby Finlay who writes beautifully for Ripper Street – and so it was very exciting to get them.

What is it like doing comic scenes?

Even in the darker scenes there’s always moments of levity and wit. That’s just life, so you don’t think ‘oh here’s a comic scene’ or ‘here’s a dark scene’, you just play what’s there. But to answer your question, comic scenes are great fun. One we just shot was like a big western, like a cowboy’s brawl, with Jackson sauntering in covered in blood stubbing his cigarette out in someone’s eye and mooching away. It’s a lovely way to see everyone again.

Were you excited to work with the new cast members in season two?

It’s always thrilling to learn about the new casting and people who are coming in. It was great. We’ve got Joseph Mawle who comes in and plays Jedediah Shine and he’s a terrific actor. There are some lovely guests and it’s great when you’re here all the time and a new face comes in and sort of lifts everything. It’s really exciting, we’ve had some great actors come through.


Detective Inspector Edmund Reid    Matthew MacFayden

Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake     Jerome Flynn

Captain Homer Jackson                    Adam Rothenberg

Long Susan                                        Myanna Buring

Detective Constable Albert Flight     Damien Molony

Inspector Jedediah Shine                  Joseph Mawle

Bella Drake                                       Gillian Saker

Leanne Best                                      Jane Cobden

Fred Best                                           David Dawson

Sergeant Donald Artherton              David Wilmot

Chief Inspector David Abaline        Clive Russell

Rose                                                 Charlene McKenna


Creator and Lead Writer                    Richard Warlow


Directors                                             Tom Shankland

                                                            Christopher Menaul

                                                            Kieran Hawkes

                                                            Andy Wilson


Executive Producer                            Greg Brenman

                                                            Will Gould

                                                            Ed Guiney

                                                            Polly Hill

                                                            Andrew Lowe

                                                            Simon Vaughan

Producer                                           Stephen Smallwood


Ripper Street is produced for the BBC by Tiger Aspect Productions, Lookout Point and BBC AMERICA.



Jack the Ripper may be fading into memory but East London has found no peace; H Division’s beat is more chaotic and lawless than ever. So when a sergeant from Limehouse’s neighboring K Division is found hurled from a Whitechapel tenement window, Reid is quick to act. If the police are to be so publicly assaulted on his streets, what hope is there for law-abiding civilian life? Investigations into the man’s activities lead them to the Chinatown at Limehouse dockside and into the orbit of K-Division’s Inspector Jedediah Shine. Shine’s conviction is that his sergeant has fallen victim to a Triad turf war, but Jackson discovers evidence of a newly synthesized and devastatingly powerful opiate. This leads Reid to different conclusions and fears that a new kind of hell is to be released on to his streets.


Only hours after she gave birth in its maternity ward, a nameless and seemingly vagrant young woman is found murdered in a stairwell at Whitechapel’s The London Hospital. The only suggestion of her identity, however, is the strange protrusion at the base of her spine – a vestigial tail. It is a clue which takes Reid and the team into the shadowy netherworld of the circus freak shows and back to The London Hospital to seek help and understanding from its most celebrated resident, Joseph Merrick, aka The Elephant Man. Elsewhere Chief Inspector Abberline arrives with reinforcements for H-Division in the form of Detective Constable Albert Flight, a young Irishman of great ambition. With the death of P.C. Hobbs, Reid fears for the callow youth’s fate on these meanest of streets.


A prominent member of the newly formed London County Council (LCC) is skillfully abducted from his table at Whitechapel’s Blewett’s Theatre of Varieties, the music hall where Rose Erskine now works as a waitress. Their investigation brings the recently married Drake back into contact with Rose, the girl who broke his heart, and introduces Reid to Councilor Jane Cobden, the first woman ever appointed to the LCC. It appears the kidnappers are a female gang, and radical supporters of Cobden’s aims. Meanwhile, when a lawyer is similarly abducted from his pleasures in one of the Leman Street bedrooms, ‘Long’ Susan finds herself faced with the gang’s charismatic leader when taken by force to the gang’s hideout.


After serving more than twenty years in Newgate Gaol prison, the Irish dynamiter, Aiden Galvin, is sprung from his prison wagon while traveling through Whitechapel. Barely a day later, he detonates a device beneath the bed of Cecil Knightly, a prominent Member of Parliament and a vociferous opponent of The Irish Home Rule movement. Despite their outward protestations of peace, Chief Inspector Abberline is convinced the Irish Republican Brotherhood is once more about its work and orders Reid to send Detective Sergeant Flight undercover into Whitechapel’s Irish community.


Investigations into the brutal slaying of a Telegraph newspaper boy lifts the lid on a vice racket run from the offices of the Government Printing Office.  The Telegraph ledger leads Reid to the heart of one of the city’s most eminent financial institutions, Barings Bank. The trail reveals blackmail, looming economic disaster and financial corruption. Meanwhile, Jackson seeks means of ridding himself and ‘Long’ Susan of the suffocating debt they owe the moneylender, Silas Duggan.


Churches and synagogues are being burnt and desecrated in Whitechapel and Reid suspects the same hand behind the various attacks. Seeking the help of Jewish mathematician, Isaac Bloom, Reid’s inquiries take him into the occult. Meanwhile, the all-too-brief domestic happiness that Sergeant Drake has enjoyed is disrupted by the arrival of a friend from his wife Bella’s past, the mysterious and charismatic scholar, Gabriel Cain.


The pall of personal tragedy looms over the men of H Division when a very real and valuable symbol of the British Empire’s wealth arrives in the form of an uncut diamond. A stone ‘freed’ from the diamond monopoly of De Graal by Daniel Judge, Captain Jackson’s reckless and untrustworthy elder brother. As Jackson absorbs both the potential wealth of this gem and the personal irritation of his sibling, Reid and Flight are drawn to the plight of a local craftsman defrauded of his work and income by a sophisticated long-firm scam. Meanwhile, ‘Long’ Susan finds herself powerless to resist the ever-encroaching influence that Silas Duggan is determined to exert on her life.


Death and violence stalk Whitechapel once more. Decayed and murdered corpses are found in a slum tenement, and the police divisional boxing championship – the Lafone Cup – reveal vengeful feelings within the force. As Reid and Drake find themselves unable to resist a final reckoning with K Division’s Jedediah Shine, Jackson and his brother Judge’s desperate attempts to profit from the stolen diamond lead them to the murderous agents of the De Graal monopoly. And ‘Long’ Susan must decide where her future lies – with Jackson, or allied to the immoral but powerful Duggan.




Season two finds Reid very much alone in the world. His home is filthy and untended and he sleeps most nights on the day-bed in his office at Leman Street. The hole where his personal life should be has made him even more committed to his daily battles on the streets of Whitechapel. Fallout from his failure to catch Jack the Ripper – the loss of both his daughter and wife – will forever haunt him, but with Whitechapel falling apart at the seams, Reid has enough on the table to keep his mind off the past.  Even his relationship with his closest allies is shifting. Not that Sergeant Drake’s loyalty to Reid is ever in question, but changes in his own life mean that Reid may no longer count on the violent enforcement that Drake provides. As for Captain Jackson – loyalty is not something Reid has ever expected, but he has become used to relying on his expertise – skills, that may no longer be available to Reid if Jackson’s own ambitions are to be met. Despite all this, Reid’s determination to fight evil remains undimmed. Just how far will Reid go to ensure that good prevails? And what will be the cost to his own soul?



At first glance, Captain Jackson might seem tamed. He is a fixture at the Leman Street station house these days, and his womanizing ways have been replaced by a re-commitment to his wife ‘Long’ Susan Hart. Were it not for the fact that they live in a brothel, his life might seem normal. Yet beyond this, he yearns for a new freedom. As far as he is concerned, he and Susan have laid their past to rest and have no need to hide in the lawless chaos of Whitechapel. But harsh realities are soon to intrude on his life. Not only are those fantasy ambitions under threat, but so is the security of his home. His free-spirited and reckless past meant that he had no idea of, or no interest in, just how his wife was able to finance the birth and growth of the Tenter Street bordello. He is soon to find out, though. And when he does, his and Susan’s life will be changed forever.



At first glance, Captain Jackson might seem tamed. He is a fixture at the Leman Street station house these days, and his womanizing ways have been replaced by a re-commitment to his wife ‘Long’ Susan Hart. Were it not for the fact that they live in a brothel, his life might seem normal. Yet beyond this, he yearns for a new freedom. As far as he is concerned, he and Susan have laid their past to rest and have no need to hide in the lawless chaos of Whitechapel. But harsh realities are soon to intrude on his life. Not only are those fantasy ambitions under threat, but so is the security of his home. His free-spirited and reckless past meant that he had no idea of, or no interest in, just how his wife was able to finance the birth and growth of the Tenter Street bordello. He is soon to find out, though. And when he does, his and Susan’s life will be changed forever.

‘LONG’ SUSAN HART (Myanna Buring)

As with Captain Jackson, ‘Long’ Susan Hart finds herself freed from her original need to hide out in Whitechapel. But unlike him, she has come to feel at home in the Tenter Street brothel.  But happiness is transitory as a new secret is soon to be revealed; one that even Captain Jackson had no idea. Susan is knee deep in debt she took on from her leasing of the Tenter Street site, financed by a far from legitimate source – the vile and ruthless moneylender, Silas Duggan. At the time, wanted by the law and living anonymously – she had no choice but to accept the terms of this loan. Now, Silas wants his share of the successful business she has built, whether in coin or in Susan’s flesh, forcing her to examine the morality of what she has done for profit. 



As an Irishman in the Metropolitan police, Flight is already marked as an outsider. Securing Reid’s trust and respect is an even harder task as Reid sees in him only a reminder of the violent and tragic loss of PC Dick Hobbs. But Flight is to prove himself not only worthy of Reid’s respect, but also unworthy of the kind of innocence that drew his affection to Hobbs. Flight is a man of secrets that the men of H Division could never guess.



Shine has used his ten year experience as an Inspector on the Hong Kong police force to exert a firm grip over Limehouse’s neighboring K Division and the emergent Chinatown that grows within it. An officer both feared and respected by all, he is a man obsessed by his own corrupt power and will. He is Reid’s amoral nemesis. Where Reid is restricted by both the law and morality, Shine suffers no such qualms. If Reid cannot find a way to defeat him, Shine is a monster that might swallow his world whole.


BELLA DRAKE (Gillian Saker)

Saved from the life of a prostitute by the love of Sergeant Bennet Drake, Bella returns that love fiercely. She knows that the commitment of such a decent man is more than she could have ever expected from her life as one of Susan’s girls. And so her life is a happy one, until her past comes calling.


JANE COBDEN (Leanne Best)

Jane Cobden was the first woman to be elected to the London County Council representing Bromley and Bow. One of the giants on whose shoulders the Suffragette Movement was to stand, she is a bohemian and a committed defender of the downtrodden and abused. She will find much in common with Inspector Reid, a man whose occasional inclination towards introspection and seriousness she is ready to puncture with keen and affectionate wit.


FRED BEST (David Dawson)

Despite the removal of his ear by the vicious Pinkerton renegade, Frank Goodnight, Best’s commitment to sensationalism remains undimmed. Wearing his deformity with easy pride, the newspaperman remains both aid and impediment to Reid’s inquiries.

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