Once Upon A Time In Yorkshire
Between Now and Dawn
Reclaim the Night
Out of the Shadows
Blow, death, mutilation; on the 30th October 1975, West Yorkshire Police were thrown into one of the largest and most expensive manhunts in British History. Dubbed “The Ripper”, Peter Sutcliffe murdered 13 women and attempted to murder 7 others between 1975 and 1981.
With the police force in disarray and attitudes of the people quickly turning hostile, The Ripper dives right into the heart of this investigation, delivering an engrossing 4 part docu-series in the process.
The opening episode follows the timeline of Sutcliffe’s early moves; moves that claimed his first four victims. The second turns to eye-witness reports from those survivors and scraps of evidence as West Yorkshire Police begin to investigate with a bit more urgency. The third starts us off in 1979 as the police receive a letter and a tape from the Ripper himself.
With anger bubbling up and the public turning hostile, the fourth episode finally sees a conclusion to this shocking case, reflecting back on the inept police force who interviewed Sutcliffe 9 times before he was eventually convicted.
For the most part, The Ripper does a good job balancing things out, interviewing police officers, victims and even news reporters covering the story at the time. Alongside this are the usual array of archival photos, videos and a slick map showing the location of all the victims at the time. These combine nicely to paint a more thorough portrait of what happened that fateful night.
Where the documentary slips up slightly is with its editing. Most of the series follows a consistent timeline, starting in 1975 and working its way up to Peter Sutcliffe’s arrest in 1981. However, thrown in the midst of this are numerous jumps back in time as we look at the history of different officers and victims at the time. The first episode is particularly bad for this, although the later segments do improve and become a bit more pacey over time.
Thematically, The Ripper is certainly a timely series, tackling ineptitude of police officers and a rising wave of unhappy females demanding sexist attitudes be changed in a largely patriarchal system. It’s certainly a welcome inclusion and an eerie reflection on what’s currently happening in society today. Thankfully though, this narrative doesn’t completely overshadow the victims who remain centre stage here.
For true crime enthusiasts, The Ripper is another well-written and engrossing Netflix docu-series examining a notorious case that plagued the North of England in the 70’s. With 4 episodes clocking in at around 45 minutes or so, this can easily be watched in an evening or two. Editing issues aside, The Ripper is another true crime hit well worth watching.