The dark, fateful 10-week period in 1888 London would become known as "the Autumn of Terror," historian and author Donald Rumbelow reminds us at the beginning of The Real Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper, the to-this-day unidentified serial killer who terrorized London's Whitechapel district -- an innocuous name for a neighbourhood variously described as "the most notorious criminal rookery in London" and "perhaps the foulest and most dangerous streets in the whole metropolis" -- has become the stuff of pop-cultural legend and the source of endless speculation. The Real Jack the Ripper, part ghost story, part historical documentary, strives to put a sober face on that speculation, separating fact from fiction.
Ripperologists, historian Paul Begg explains -- Ripper devotees have developed their own "ology" -- have produced a lot of solid information on a wide range of subjects, and not just Ripperology.
Begg himself is the author of Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, and he's one of several historians in the program sitting at a table, knocking back stiff drinks and handling various cutting instruments from the time.
In one of the program's more poignant moments, Canadian Maureen Nichols, great-great-granddaughter of the woman believed to be the Ripper's first victim, Mary Ann Nichols, recalls being startled the first time she saw a vintage, black-and-white snapshot of the Ripper's first victim and recognized the family resemblance. She returns to London, on a pilgrimage of a kind, trailed by the filmmakers.
The Real Jack the Ripper is an eye-opening, if not always illuminating, look at one of history's great unexplained mysteries. (History Television -- 9 p.m.)
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/serious+look+Ripperology/3753766/story.html#ixzz14CBovA00