What tale could be darker than that of Jack the Ripper, the maniac who murdered five women in London in 1888? The darkened streets of Whitechapel. The flashing knife. The dismemberment. The taunting letters. The sinister hints of a masonic conspiracy with Royal connections. The fact that the killer's identity remains a mystery.
So, then, who should play Inspector Abberline, the leader of the doomed investigation into the killings, for the TV adaptation of this twisted yarn? Why, Shane Ritchie, obviously.
It's hard to imagine just what the BBC is playing at here. Shane Ritchie? For the uninitiated, Shane Ritchie is the ex-Pontins entertainer, quiz-show host and latterday Danny Zuko whose towering gravitas overdraft is amply demonstrated by his present role as Alfie Moon in EastEnders.
Alfie is a comic character tragically given no comic lines, resulting in a performance that can most flatteringly be described as "leaden". This isn't Ritchie's fault, it can be safely blamed on the writers. (EastEnders presently has a character called "Minty". The writing team must have been replaced by one of those "infinite monkeys" experiments, only without enough monkeys, or using donkeys instead of monkeys.)
All the same - Ritchie? As Inspector Abberline? Inspector Gadget, maybe, but the BBC is really stretching a point here. It's like having Timmy Mallet play Martin Luther King. Who's playing the Ripper? Denise van Outen?
The longer one considers this bizarre decision, a sort of perverted logic begins to emerge. EastEnders is set in the East End and is rather depressing. Alfie Moon is a rather tragic character. The story of Jack the Ripper is set in the East End and is rather depressing. Abberline is a rather tragic character. So Shane is in fact the perfect person to play ...
And that's the point the men in white come and take you away.