This post contains spoilers for The Long Shadow episode 2.
After the death of Wilma McCann and Emily Jackson, the hunt for their killer is grinding to a halt. Yet the police ignore information that could have helped catch Sutcliffe when they dismiss the tale of Marcella Claxton, in a particularly poignant storyline.
Here's our recap of what happened in The Long Shadow episode 2...
'In case something happened...'
It’s January 1976 and Sydney Jackson is woken by his son, Neil, who tells him the police are downstairs. They have terrible news for him about his wife, Emily, who's become Peter Sutcliffe's second victim.
At the police station, DCS Hobson asks Sydney to identify his wife’s body, but he can’t do it and instead leaves that traumatic task to his son. DCS Dennis Hoban takes Neil to his mother and tells him he’ll only be seeing her face, presumably due to the nature of the wounds she’s received, before consoling him tenderly when he begins crying after identifying her.
The fact that Sydney refused to identify Emily leads the police to wonder if he killed his own wife and discuss the death of the couple’s teenage son some years back, after which neighbours say the couple have “never been the same”.
The police are now convinced Emily’s murder is linked to Wilma McCann’s in October last year and begin questioning Sydney, making jibes about his inability to drive.
They then outline the terrible injuries his wife suffered, including hammer blows to the head and screwdriver stab wounds to her body, before demanding to know what foot size he is. Someone stamped on Emily’s thigh with a size 7 dunlop Wellington boot, yet Sydney reveals he’s a size 10.
Under increased pressure from DCS Hoban and DCS Hobson, Sydney then begins to explain what happened the night before, telling them he and his wife went drinking.
It takes some time before a distraught widower admits that his wife had been going with men for money, while he accompanied her in case “something happened”. It’s clearly a moment of intense pain and anguish for Sydney. However, at the same time DCS Hoban receives news about the footprint that would seem to eliminate Sydney from their enquiries.
The police resolve to keep details about the killer’s footwear to themselves, while members of DCS Hoban's team continue to suggest the killer is only targeting prostitutes.
When his mother is described in such terms on the evening news by DCS Hoban, Neil Jackson is incredulous and demands to know why the police are saying that about his mum. Sydney says nothing. However the next morning he opens the front door to find a horde of press on his doorstep asking questions about his wife and offering money for details of their life together.
'He's coming back...'
In a police emergency response room, a call comes in from a woman calling from a phone box beside Roundhay Park in Chapeltown. Her name is Marcella Claxton and she tells the officer she’s been hit on the head with a hammer by a stranger, who’s now fled the scene. In horror, Marcella then tells the officer she’s hiding because the man is driving his white car back towards the phone box. Thankfully, he continues past her. It’s a powerfully shot and nerve-shredding scene.
When DCS Hobson and DC John Nunn question Marcella as she lies in her hospital bed later that day, she gives an eerily vivid description of Peter Sutcliffe, yet Nunn in particular seems keen to suggest Marcella is mistaken and she was attacked by a black man. Other baseless and racist aspersions are insinuated.
Marcella tells the police her attacker gave her a fiver and “played with himself” after assaulting her, but DCS Hobson is determined that she’s lying about not being a prostitute.
It’s a deeply disturbing scene that encapsulates the pain of those Sutcliffe attacked, while also explaining why the police failed to catch him for so long. Yet the real heartbreak comes after the two detectives leave the room, when we discover Marcella was pregnant and has now lost her baby. She will have to give birth to her child regardless.
Unaware of the deep trauma Marcella has suffered, DCS Hobson and DC Nunn set off to Roundhay Park, yet it’s immediately clear they don't think her attack was connected to the other two. Their contempt for Marcella and her story is stark, yet before they depart, Nunn hints that DCS Hoban is on the verge of being taken off the case.
Marcella returns to her home in a moving scene that is made even more poignant by the empty child’s playpen in the corner of her front room.
'It's like that every night...'
PS Bob Blake and WPC Anna Lawson are approached by Nicola Briggs, the girl who stood on the street corner next to Emily Jackson on the night she died, and question her in the back of their police car.
Nicola says the last time she saw Emily she was getting into a green Land Rover, but the police have already caught that man and he’s not the one they’re looking for. Nicola has no idea that Emily returned from that job and was then picked up by Peter Sutcliffe on the night she died.
Nicola asks for more details of the murders and the police ask about any clients she finds especially frightening, but she says they’re describing every bloke she goes with up. It’s a dark prospect.
'A horrible thought...'
DCS Hoban laments the difficulty of the investigation and how Leeds’ prostitutes are reluctant to speak to them. As such, despite all their hard work, it’s six months after Wilma McCann was murdered and the police still have little to go on.
As the inquest into Sutcliffe's first two murders begins, DCS Hoban privately admits that he’s no closer to catching the killer and is haunted by the thought that without more murders, he’s unlikely to receive any more clues about the killer’s identity.
After the enquiry, DCS Hoban is met by Chief Constable Gregory, who takes him to his new office back at HQ and reveals he’s being ‘promoted’, which is a nice way of saying he’s been taken off the case. It’s a hammer blow for DCS Hoban, but he visits Sydney Jackson to share the news and explain that he never suspected him of killing his wife.
'It's not connected...'
In 1976, Irene Richardson visits a posh house and applies for a job as a nanny, telling her interviewers she has done the job twice before and also worked in hotels. Yet the women assessing her can’t mistake Eileen’s nervy demeanor and dirty fingernails, leaving us in little doubt that she won’t be getting the job. It is impossible not to feel for her, a young woman clearly trying her best in difficult circumstances.
The next year, a jogger in Roundhay Park discovers her corpse near the spot where Marcella was attacked. DCS Hoban’s secretary tells him about the discovery of the body and he rushes to the scene, yet when he gets there, he’s told his presence isn’t required and that “everyone’s wondering what he’s doing here”. Given DCS Hobson’s terrible analysis of Marcella’s attack, we’re not sure what he’s doing there.
The police soon learn that after months of failing to find employment, Irene was forced to sell herself on the street and became the killer's third victim. DCS Hobson tells his team that tyre tracks were found at the scene of the crime and sets them on a hunt to identify the vehicle.
Meanwhile, DC Nunn has second thoughts about Marcella's story and goes to her address in a bid to find out more about the night she was attacked. However he finds she has left her house in fear because the police didn’t believe her.
After digging out the file he stumbles upon a photofit of Marcella’s attacker and suggests that assault — which was carried out at the same spot that Irene’s body was found — could have been carried out by their man. Yet a furious Hobson dismisses his theory and calls Marcella a liar, before burying the image of Peter Sutcliffe in his draw. He also suggests believing her story could endanger their careers. It’s a decision that will not age well.
Meanwhile, the editor of The Yorkshire Evening Post puts together a headline describing the killer as ‘The Ripper’ for the first time.
The Long Shadow episode 3 will be shown at 9pm on ITV1 on Monday 9 October