By Michael Hogan
10:30PM GMT 16 Dec 2013
Recent episodes of Ripper Street (BBC One) have been somewhat overshadowed by the news that the bowler-hatted, bewhiskered period police procedural has been axed by the Beeb. There are rumours of it being saved by a co-production deal between makers Tiger Aspect and online streaming service LoveFilm.
Meanwhile, fans are up in arms and have started a petition to keep it on-air. I have some sympathy. It’s never nice when one of your favourite shows gets dragged into an alleyway and brutally slain but I can also understand the motive for the killing: ratings have fallen from 7m to 4m and convincingly recreating 1889 East End London can’t come cheap. The false beard budget alone probably ran into thousands. It might have lapsed into gratuitous gore at times but Ripper Street was a fully realised world, populated by strong characters and the writing was superb. Its quality hasn’t dipped. Instead, the ratings decline is largely due to it being scheduled against I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!
This episode, then, wasn’t just the last of the series but probably the last one ever. It’s a grimy, gritty world at Division H in Whitechapel but now the soundtrack’s lush string arrangements acquired an extra elegiac quality. The writers didn’t know this was going to be their swansong but it worked as one.
Inspector Reid (the ever-excellent Matthew MacFadyen) and his motley crew of ye olde coppers were fighting two baddies in a plot involving hapless landlords and pieces of cheesewire.
Meanwhile, Reid’s two sidekicks had problems of their own. Craggy, hangdog DS Drake (Jerome Flynn) had lost his stomach for police work but was not short of fight in the force’s boxing championship. Captain Homer Jackson was desperately trying to profit from a stolen South African diamond and not get ripped off by his own brother.
The plot threads were drawn together for the final reckoning, cutting between boxing ring and music hall.
Jackson’s brother sold the diamond to local villain Duggan (Frank Harper) and scarpered with the cash. The South Africans killed Duggan to get it back. Drake knocked the stuffing out of bent copper Shine (Joseph Mawle) in the ring.
READ MORE HERE: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/tv-and-radio-reviews/10521420/Ripper-Street-the-final-episode-BBC-One-review.html