Rupert Penry-Jones returns to bring copycat Kray twins to justice in a new series of the ITV1 crime drama Whitechapel…

The crime drama Whitechapel was a huge hit when it began last year. The series, which followed modern-day detectives as they hunted for a serial killer who was copying Jack the Ripper, became ITV1’s best-rated new drama of 2009, and this Monday it returns for a new three-part run on ITV1.

This time, the investigation sees sensitive DI Joe Chandler, played by Rupert Penry-Jones, faced with another copycat case as twin villains begin mimicking the crimes of 1960s East End gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

TV&Satellite Week magazine caught up with Rupert to find out more…

How would you sum up the new case?
“There is another set of Kray twins who are dominating London and trying to run a federation of crime and copy everything the original Krays did, apart from their mistakes. It’s not as much of a whodunit this time; it’s more about how we are going to catch them.”

How does Chandler and his team react?
“DS Miles, who’s played by Phil Davis, realises what is going on before Chandler. He knows about this world so he is worried. These twins are doing what the Krays did and infiltrating the police, so the team has to do everything undercover because there are bent coppers around.”

Did you research the real Krays?
“I read a couple of books which were fascinating and we filmed in The Blind Beggar pub, one of their haunts, and in snooker halls and cafes which have the feel of that time. It is strange that they were revered as superstars because they were brutal people. The things they did were terrifying.”

You have to box one of the new Krays. What was that like?
“I had a lesson at a boxing club and it is a lot harder than I thought getting the right stance to defend yourself and the sheer physicality of it. After throwing punches for an hour and a half I was in agony and I could hardly walk the next day.”

Had you ever boxed before?
“I’ve never had a fight in my life. I have been hit a few times, but I have never hit anyone back. I knew from a very young age I wanted to be an actor so my face was my fortune.”

Does Chandler still struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder?
“Yes, and it gets completely out of control this time. It gets to a point where he can’t leave his office because he is switching all the lights on and off. He starts drinking to numb the desire to keep things under control.”

Did you do any research into that?
“I met a doctor who specialises in OCD. It is incredible how bad it can get and how many people have a small amount of it in them. My wife thinks I have OCD, but I just like things to be in their place.”

Are you enjoying playing such a different character from your previous roles?
“I like the fact Chandler doesn’t have all the answers. He isn’t always right and doesn’t know how to deal with every situation. He has more cracks and colour to him instead of being an out-and-out hero. It’s fun not being an alpha male.”

Why do you think Whitechapel captured viewers’ imaginations last time out?
“It is different from a lot of cop shows because it is funny and gruesome at the same time. It also has a period feel to it without being a period piece. I don’t know how many more conspiracy or copycat type crimes we could dredge up, but it doesn’t just have to be an East End thing. We could get interesting cases wherever they may be.”

Do you enjoy working with Phil Davis?
“I love it. We worked together before on North Square and have been friends ever since. We work well together because you have got the height difference, plus the posh boy and the London boy, so we bounce off each other.”