Ripper Street is set in and around Whitechapel in London’s East End in 1889, during the aftermath of the infamous Jack the Ripper murders. The action centers on the notorious H Division, which is charged with keeping order in the all-consuming chaotic East London streets.
The hopeful tasked with keeping order in the district include Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), a forward-thinking detective haunted by a past mistake that ended in tragedy. Assisting Reid is his loyal, tough-as-nails aide Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake (Jerome), and a shady American surgeon and ex-Pinkerton agent Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg). Jackson turns out not to be all he says he is; the same goes for his close associate Long Susan (MyAnna Buring), a mysterious brothel owner who figures prominently in the show’s larger thematic development. Reid and Jackson share an uneasy friendship and professional respect built primarily on the inspector’s cleverness in police work and the doctor’s keen mind for forensic examination.
Speaking to the BBC as part of their publicity release, Jerome describes his role as Drake:
I play Sergeant Bennett Drake. I think he’s probably been in the H division, the police force, which is based in Whitechapel, East London, for maybe seven or eight years. And he had been in the army for quite a long time from his 20s, and served a lot and he’d been fighting in Sudan. And I’ve got a feeling that Inspector Reid had some kind of influence on his life before he actually joined the police force. It is Reid who persuades him to come along. He’s a very loyal man and especially so to Reid. It’s almost as if Inspector Reid has become Bennet Drake’s colonel in the army.
People have called him a bit of a pit bull but I think that’s unfair, myself. He’s more of a refined muscle head.
He’s been institutionalised quite early on. I think there was some kind of care home and then the army and then the police force so that’s his family. Essentially, he’s quite a lonely man, but I think he’s longing to have a life like his Inspector Reid. You know, to be happily married and have that couched around him because it’s something he’s never had. He’s got just a memory of it, you know, in his first few years. I’ve done my research, you know.
Jerome’s portrayal of Drake earned him a BAFTA nomination in 2014 in the “Best Supporting Actor” category.
Ripper Street is available to buy on DVD/Blue Ray and download from Amazon Prime.
Amazon – Series Purchase
Tiger Aspect – Production Company