“The past isn’t dead…it’s deadly": Horror, history and locale in ITV1’s Whitechapel

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This article analyses the ITV crime drama Whitechapel (2009–), contributing to academic understandings of the horror and Gothic genres on television. It does so by examining the importance of place in TV horror, expanding on prior work that has concentrated on the rural by focusing on television horror within the urban London district of Whitechapel which has a specific history and legacy. Given the recent boom in history television programming and the ‘potential and variety of the popular history drama in engaging with the past’ (de Groot 2009: 207), it also contributes to work on televising the past by examining how history is ambiguously represented in the Gothic crime drama. The piece
explores how the past can be used to create television horror, depicting events from history as potentially threatening and as a source of dread and unease which is indebted to the Gothic’s emphasis upon the past. In portraying a more nuanced relationship between the present and past, the potential limits
of partial knowledge and an over-reliance on historical precedent, Whitechapel offers an instructive convincing case study regarding the intersections of place, history and Gothic/horror tropes in contemporary television drama.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-85
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Crime Drama
  • Gothic
  • television
  • place and space
  • horror
  • history
  • Whitechapel


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