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Jack The Ripper : The Definitive Story Produced & Directed by Jeff Leahy and written by Paul Begg & John Bennett. The making of the first documentary ever written and produced by Ripperologists.

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Old January 29th, 2011, 04:49 PM   #1
Jeff Leahy
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Default Stewart Evans' Critique

On 5 December 2010 I posted the following on JTRForums in a discussion about improving Ripperology.
I consider myself as a Ripper ‘enthusiast’, for want of a better description but, unfortunately posting as SPE or under my full name sets me up, at times, as a target or for undue significance being attached to what I may say. It is sometimes very difficult for me to even voice my opinion for fear of upsetting someone (very easy to do in Ripperworld) and for my words to assume much greater significance than, in fact, they actually have. This said others may, perhaps, understand why the use of a pseudonym would be particularly useful for me in voicing my opinion without causing too much upset or controversy.

Thus, some time ago, I had an account set up on Casebook forums in the name ‘Gideon Fell’ in order for me to voice my opinion without causing too much distress as not so much significance would attach to what I said. Those who know me know that I am not afraid to say what I think under my own name but, as has been seen in my exchanges with Paul Begg, we have, I think, unduly hurt each other and we are both too old for that. I have known Paul for many years, before the boards ever existed and we certainly do not always agree on things Ripper. Apropos of this Paul and I recently agreed that enough was enough and we would stop having our ‘battles’ on the boards. We do, actually, have quite a lot in common.

YES I FULLY UNDERSTAND THIS. AS A PROFESSIONAL TELEVISION PRODUCER I MADE A CLEAR DESCISION TO POST AS A JOURNALIST 'PIRATE JACK' A SuDONIM THAT ALLOWED ME TO PUSH AND UNCOVER WHAT I SAW AS THE TRUTH. (HOPEFULLY JEFF LEAHY ISNT QUITE SUCH A BASTARD) HOWEVER I HAVE ALWAYS SEEN IT AS A FANTASTIC RESOURCE THAT PEOPLE ON THE CUTTING EDGE LIKE PAUL AND STEWART DO THIS..WELL AS FANTASTIC OPPORTUNITY TO QUESTION PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE!!

Moving on to the recent Channel 5 documentary produced by Jeff Leahy, I obviously followed the pre-broadcast hype and read of how accurate it was going to be and how it was going to knock every other documentary ever made into a cocked hat. That is, rather, inviting people to find errors and give their opinion of what they have seen.

WELL THIS IS TV. I CANT THINK OF A DOCUMENTYARY THAT HASNT MADE OUTRAGEOUS CLAIMS. IF YOU NOT GOING TO CLAIM THAT YOU KNOW WHO JACK THE RIPPER IS/WAS.....THEN YOU BETTER HAVE SOMETHING PRETTY GOOD!!!!!!

To do this under my own name would cause undue resentment and possibly hurt to some and would carry more weight than if said by an unknown (or ‘non-name’)

ACTUALLY NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH...WHEN JOHN AND I SAT DOWN AND WROTE THIS PROGRAM THE TWO NAMES WE REFERENCED/SOUGHT OPINION ETC, WERE BEGG AND EVANS......ANY CRITISisM IS AN HONOUR


in Ripperology, such as ‘Gideon Fell’. After all, Gideon Fell could simply be told that he didn’t know what he was talking about and be dismissed out of hand. As the decision had been made to retain pseudonyms I felt that I could, at least, make some comment as an enthusiast on the documentary that I had watched. This I did.

YES

HOPEFULLY I GAVE GIDEON FELL THE SAME RESPECT I WOULD GIVE ANY OTHER POSTER BECAUSE I CARE THAT THE INFORMATION IN DEFINITIVE STORY IS CORRECT

My comments were not abusive, were not personal attacks, did not derogate anyone or ‘spoil’ anything. They were honest opinion and comment on perceived errors. They were as follows –

‘very good and with few mistakes.’

WE WERE HONOURED

The chap in Berner Street was carrying a modern briefcase and not a Gladstone bag.’

YES, THIS WAS PAULS BREIF CASE A PRIVATE JOKE WE THOUGHT KNOWONE WOULD NOTICE

‘The CGI streets looked good but they were too clean. They would have been filthy and knee deep in horse poo.’ (I here admit that I am not au fait with CGI techniques and base my opinion only on other examples of CGI I have seen).

THERE IS SOME TRUTH IN THIS. I WOULD URGE YOU TO TALK WITH JAKE LUUKENAN AND THE PROBLEMS HE HAS FACED. I THINK I CAN SPEEK FOR JAKE IN SAYING HE WOULD WELCOME DISCUSSION WITH YOU ON HIS WORK. ITS A DIFFICULT TOPIC...PEOPLE HAVE TO SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING.

‘They showed Swanson plonking away on his typewriter but weren’t all his reports handwritten’.

I"M NOT CERTAIN ON THIS? WERE ALL HIS REPORTS HAND WRITTEN? CERTAINLY THE PROGRAM HAS SWANSON TYPING AND WRITING. IM NOT CERTAIN OF HOW MUCH OF EACH BUT THERE MUST BE DRAMATIC EVENT TYPING AD WRITTING TIO FILL VO.

‘Didn’t they show Cross and Paul finding Nichols body together? Cross found it first then Paul came along.’

AS EXPLAINED THE GREEN SCREEN STUDIO GAVE US ABOUT 25 ft of MOVEMENT. CROSS (LETCHMERE) SAW A TARP...HE CALLED TO CROSS THEY INVESTIGATED....I STAND BY OUR RECONSTRUCTION AS THE MOST ACCURATE EVER MADE. WE CAN NOT KNOW THE EXACT TRUTH OF THE MEETING. CROSS AND PAUL DID NOT KNOW EACH OTHER...WE DID OUR BEST HERE.

‘The leather apron was shown found lying in the middle of the backyard at Hanbury Street. Surely it was under the tap on the wall? I thought I heard the voiceover say that 40 Berner Street was on the east side of the street but it was actually on the west side. I might have misheard that though.’

THERE WAS NO WAY THIS COULD HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED IN ONE SHOT., BUT YOU ARE CORRECT.

‘It all appeared quite brightly lit

PLEASE COMPLAIN TO CHANNEL FIVE QC. IT WAS DARK IN THE MASTERING WHEN IT LEFT US!!!

and didn’t convey how dark the streets actually were.

YES BUT YOU HAD TO SEE SOMETHING? ITS A HARD CALL

I can’t find a reference for Mrs Long saying that the man she saw was wearing a low crowned felt hat. I thought a deerstalker was mentioned in the papers at the time.’ (This point was later thrashed out on JTRForums and although most reports referred to a deerstalker, one report in the Daily Telegraph referred to ‘low crowned felt hat’.)

YES WE HAVE DEALT WITH THIS>>VERY INTERESTING..If I re-shot THIS SCENE NOW... IT WOULD BE DIFFERENT.

I also pointed out the date of the Emma Smith attack being given wrongly as 4th April when it was actually the 3rd.

I"M STILL NOT CERTAIN ON THIS...PLEASE COULD YOU TALK WITH PAUL>>IF I AM WRONG THEN I WILL TRY AND CORRECT BEFORE GOING TO HISTORY ON MONDAY..BUT I HAVE THE 4TH..COULD BE WRONG??????? HELP!!

I received responses to what I had written and shortly thereafter ended my comments. The comments were just points I had noticed when watching the programme and were given as an amateur critique which would (and in fact did) carry little weight or impression. They were not abusive and not an attack on any individual. In view of the comments I withdrew fully from both boards and have not commented on the second part of this documentary in any way.

THIS IS UNFORTUNATE....I"M CERTAIN HOWARD WOULD WELCOME AND PAUL WOULD WELCOME YOUR VEIWS....I WOULD WELCOME YOUR VEIWS ( IT HAS BEEN LARGELY FIVE YEARS OF DEBATE THAT GOT US HERE....HOPEFULLY THE PROGRAM IS RESPECTFUL OF YOUR ARGUMENTS AND VEIWS...WE AINT GOING TO AGREE ON EVERYTHING...BUT BIG RESPECT)

A certain poster on the JTRForums commented ‘I also challenge anyone who wants a dig to – at the very least – grow themselves a pair and dig using their real name. There really is no point in taking anyone’s digs seriously if they won’t say who they are. They may as well be posting as Mickey Mouse.’

ITS A PROBLEM WHEN YOU ARE KNOWN...THIS PROBLEM DOENT EFFECT THE AVERAGE JOE..YOUR REASONS WERE CLEARLY DIFFERENT AND I FOR ONE CAN RESPECT THOSE REASONS

Well, quite, that’s the reason I was using the pseudonym, the comments would carry less significance and could be more easily dismissed, as I have explained. The following comment was also posted, ‘They could have fooled me about ‘not’ trying to spoil anything, but let’s make sure they don’t succeed eh?’

ACCEPTED

I am sure that even had I posted under my own name it would not have ‘spoilt’ anything, and that was not the intention. I was an enthusiast commenting on a documentary I had just watched, my remarks were addressed by others and I posted no further. However, I decided to follow my own sage advice and to leave the boards. I do not consider pointing out valid errors or reasonable opinion as either ‘petty’ or ‘gratuitous’. However, there are those who will stand for no criticism or adverse comment whatsoever about this recent documentary. You must only sing its praises at the same time realising they themselves are at liberty to criticise any previous works on the Ripper.

STUART YOUR TO BIG TO POST FOR LONG UNDER ANOTHER NAME. BUT IF STUART EVANS SAYS WE MADE HALF A DOZEB MISTAKES THAT'S AN HONOUR..I THINK FIRST SERIAL KLLLER HAD 39? BUT SERIOUSLY I HAD ALREADY MADE CHANGES TO THE 90 MINUTE VERsion GIVEN CRITISISM THAT WAS CORRECT...MANY THANKS


As for ‘hiding’ behind a pseudonym, it was hardly that as several know that I post as Gideon Fell and I even told one person in the chatroom that it was my pseudonym. Of course the administrators of these boards know that it is me also. I have never used the pseudonym for abuse or unjustified commentary.

I have deliberately refrained from any comment on the current discussion about the marginalia and I won’t be doing so.

Now we have this current post, and make what you will of that. Personally I don’t give a rat’s rear end either way as I won’t be back. And that, I suspect, is what certain posters would prefer.

I DONT THINK WE WOULD RESPECT YOU IF YOU DID.

LET ME SAY TO ANY CRITICS OUT THERE THAT JOHN AND I BUILD THIS PROJECT ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS. BUT THE TWO GIANTS WE LARGELY DEBATED FORT AND BATTERED EACH OTHER TO MAKE THIS PROGRAM WERE BEGG AND EVANS>>>>

I THINK THAT IS OFFICIAL BEL COMPANY POLICY.

MANY THANKS FOR EVERYTHING YOU HAVE DONE, STEWART. FeEL FREE TO COMMENT AND CRITISIZE AS WHO EVER YOU LIKE BECAUSE YOU HAVE EARNED THAT RIGHT.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND INPUT AS ALWAYS

MANY THANKS FOR YOUR ADVICE ON ALL AREAS OF THE FEILD JTR...YOU ARE A LEGEND

YOURS JEFF LEAHY
PRODUCER / DIRECTOR
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Old February 1st, 2011, 06:47 AM   #2
Caroline Brown
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Okay, I'll bite.

I am so sorry, Jeff. I had no idea that Stewart had no means of contacting any of you privately to discuss crucial matters such as the lack of dung on Jake's streets.

What else could he have reasonably done in the circumstances, but create another user account so that this and other legitimate concerns could be dealt with in a civilised and grown up manner?

Love,

Caz
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Old February 1st, 2011, 07:25 AM   #3
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Default Thank You

I must respond to this posting.

Jeff, our relationship has been far from trouble free, as witness our past acrimonious exchanges. But thank you, anyway, for the kind and gracious remarks in your opening post, these are appreciated. I am no legend, never was, never will be.

During our past debates, if you recall, I declined on more than one occasion to have anything to do with the documentary you were making, not least of all because I thought that it would present a biased viewpoint.

As for other facetious persons who obviously think of themselves as very clever, I want no sort of exchange with them. They may even consider growing up themselves one day. As for me? I'll never grow up.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 07:56 AM   #4
Paul Kearney A.K.A. NEMO
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Who else but Stewart would spot the typing error? Masterful

I think it is also valid to comment in regard to the authenticity of Jake's constructions as this was a main feature of the programme

At one point, Paul stated that we would see the streets lit as Jack would have seen them, but we didn't did we? It's been explained that if it was as dark as reality, then you would not see much on screen, so the scenes are brightened, or alternatively that Channel 5 upped the brightness or something

I would have liked to see Jake's pictures fully lit as per the programme, but also with realistic lighting for a few seconds just to show how dark it really was

I noticed a couple of minor points such as the missing window at Hanbury St - which, due to the praise for Jake's accuracy,made me wonder if the window was there in 1888, but the missing front door in Dorset St may indicate otherwise

I'd like to ask a few questions in regard to the layout of Millers Court, what the bins looked like and whether the toilets were oriented in that way. Is there evidence they looked like that or is that Jake's interpretation of how they may have been?

It appears to be bad form at the moment to comment adversely on the documentary, but as Stewart stated, the comments are nothing more than inquisitive and relevant rather than plain abusive or derogatory and don't deserve to be dismissed all the time as some type of dig at the programme makers
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Old February 1st, 2011, 09:24 AM   #5
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Personally, I felt Stewart's comments weren't picky, but did raise valid questions of a few clangers that got through and some others about visuals which were also valid. We knew the parameters we had to work in at the time and did address those concerns (dung and rubbish in the streets for example) with those who brought them up. Hopefully, we were gracious in the way we approached such replies.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemo View Post
It appears to be bad form at the moment to comment adversely on the documentary, but as Stewart stated, the comments are nothing more than inquisitive and relevant rather than plain abusive or derogatory and don't deserve to be dismissed all the time as some type of dig at the programme makers
Hardly bad form, it's just the way the cookie crumbles. Anything like this will get its detractors and praise and I have certainly learnt a lot from this experience in that respect. It was interesting to see comments by non-Ripperologists on other TV-based forums and many of the critiques covered the same ground as those on Ripper-related ones. As far as 'the makers' are concerned, it is difficult not to defend something you have practically lived with for over a year. Look at how authors rigidly defend their theories in the face of overwhelming criticism. It's human nature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemo View Post
I'd like to ask a few questions in regard to the layout of Millers Court, what the bins looked like and whether the toilets were oriented in that way. Is there evidence they looked like that or is that Jake's interpretation of how they may have been?
This above, however, is the sort of thing that is bound to put one on the defensive. What the bins looked like? Which way the toilets were orientated? Inquisitive, certainly, but hey, come on...
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Old February 1st, 2011, 10:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post
This above, however, is the sort of thing that is bound to put one on the defensive. What the bins looked like? Which way the toilets were orientated? Inquisitive, certainly, but hey, come on...
Your comment is exactly what I'm on about

Why is that question "bound" to put you on the defensive?

The toilets are very relevant to me because an observer of Kelly's room and doorway may have been at that spot, amongst other theories, so the viewpoint from the toilets is important

Looking at illustrations like this...

Name:  mcourt.gif
Views: 883
Size:  6.8 KB

...I come to the conclusion that the toilets were in the position top left, ie parallel with the buildings in the court - Jake appears to have them at 90 degrees to this, facing Kelly's room

The bins are often illustrated as smaller than the length of the wall facing Kelly's windows, I always imagined them to be of low height also

Jake appears to have the bins as a kind of outhouse with a door leading to them which extends the full height and length of that wall

So why is it not relevant to request any information in regard to these orientations?

I would love Jake to be able to state categorically that these positions are correct, as that would be informative and significant (to me anyway)

So I hope you don't mind me asking again, in the hope of some clarification, are these positions based on any evidence or are they subject to a bit of artistic licence?
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Old February 1st, 2011, 10:47 AM   #7
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What you are enquiring into is very specific. Ripperology has many angles, with enthusiasts often focusing on the minutae of a particular crime or person or whatever - see the Hutchinson thread at the moment for a good example of this.

In a 90 minute documentary, it is impossible to satisfy all these enquiring minds and somebody somewhere is going to be left feeling a bit shortchanged by it if they think it is going to answer every question.

As far as Jake is concerned, I know he had attempted to depict the places as accurately as possible and used as many sources as possible to achieve this. There will always be gaps in such contemporary illustrations so short of asking Jake, I don't know whether he knew the specifics of the bins and toilets or had to make educated guesses.

JB
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Old February 1st, 2011, 11:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemo View Post
Who else but Stewart would spot the typing error? Masterful
Eh? With due deference to Stewart, whom I greatly admire, I should think most people who know have studied the era would know that use of the typewriter, as with the telephone, was a rarity in 1888. And also a glance at the Stewart and Keith's Ultimate would make it clear that Swanson hand wrote his reports. I have yet to see Jack The Ripper: The Definitive Story but anticipate it to be a cut above most Ripper documentaries. I do though agree with Jeff that few TV documentaries are without some lapses.

Chris
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Old February 1st, 2011, 11:11 AM   #9
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Thanks for the reply Jimmy

I will hope to see Jake someday at a conference maybe and I'll have a chat with him about it

Yes Chris, I suspect those facts are so well known that there must be an ulterior motive in illustrating Swanson using a typewriter in the Definitive documentary...
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Old February 1st, 2011, 11:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Yes Chris, I suspect those facts are so well known that there must be an ulterior motive in illustrating Swanson using a typewriter in the Definitive documentary...
Swanson's reports naming Tumblety as Jack the Ripper were all typed.
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