Hunting The Rolex Rippers review by CHRISTOPHER STEVENS

Hunting The Rolex Rippers review: Why did this timid presenter let bragging muggers off scot-free? writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS

Hunting The Rolex Rippers


The Doll Factory


As darkness falls on a London council estate, a young couple start to realise how conspicuous they look. She’s wearing a black silk dress and a rolled gold necklace. He’s sporting a jewelled £20,000 watch.

Ungallantly, the man takes fright and legs it. I shouldn’t laugh, but incredibly the pair of them were making a documentary about watch thefts . . . and the deserter with the fancy timepiece was a professional mugger.

What possessed film-maker Tir Dhondy to dress up like a debutante for her encounter beside a concrete underpass was never explained, in Hunting The Rolex Rippers (BBC3). Many things went unexplained, in fact, because Tir admitted she felt too intimidated to ask awkward questions.

When she met another robber, a teenager who covered his face with a mask, he sidled into her car to talk. ‘It was quite hard to press him,’ she said. ‘He pulled up his jumper and he had a huge machete on him, so obviously he didn’t feel that comfortable.’

What possessed film-maker Tir Dhondy (right)  to dress up like a debutante for her encounter beside a concrete underpass was never explained, in Hunting The Rolex Rippers (BBC3)

A masked man poses with two watches for BBC3 show Hunting the Rolex Rippers 

Well, he wouldn’t with a two-foot naked blade down his tracksuit.

This violent thug claimed the credit for robbing broadcaster Aled Jones last year, after spotting him on a shopping expedition with his son. ‘I don’t feel bad, because he’s a well-off celebrity,’ he said. ‘He’s probably got ten more in his safe at home.’

That rationale was repeated by other robbers, all of them keen to brag on camera, though their voices were disguised. ‘Like, at the end of the day,’ reasoned one, ‘if I don’t do this, what am I gonna do? Doing this is better than selling drugs in my opinion. Man’s not a heartless person.’

Little monster of the night

Quentin Blake’s Box Of Treasures (CBBC) is buried on a children’s channel but the charming first episode, called Zagazoo, will appeal even more to adults — especially those who have never fully recovered from the shock of having sprogs.

Tir timidly suggested that some people might not like being robbed at knifepoint, that an elderly victim might even suffer a heart attack. ‘Are you saying you’d steal from a grandma?’ she asked.

But there was no real challenge to their criminal logic. One declared that he had a right to rob anyone wearing a watch that cost more than some people’s houses. ‘Why am I gonna start feeling bad, and having morals and whatnot?’ he demanded.

Inevitably, it was this robber whose legs went wobbly when he realised that his expensive (stolen) watch made him a target for marauding yobs. Reaching into a briefcase, he pulled out a handgun that he tucked into the back of his trousers.

All those sharp blades and loaded weapons in such close proximity to tender parts of the anatomy. We can only hope these enterprising young fellows don’t suffer any nasty mishaps.

The violence of London’s streets is implied rather than depicted in the Victorian Gothic drama The Doll Factory (Ch5). Esme Creed-Miles and Mirren Mack star as two sisters, Iris and Rose, painting porcelain faces to copy the features of dead children.

Frustratingly, Channel 5 is showing only the first episode as a teaser: the rest of this six-part serial is available to stream on the Paramount+ on-demand service (£6.99 a month). Providing you’re patient, the whole show will probably be aired on Freeview eventually.

Eanna Hardwicke plays Silas, a creepy taxidermist with a crush on Iris, and George Webster is the Pre-Raphaelite artist who tempts her to pose for his paintings.

Derry Girls’ Saoirse-Monica Jackson stars in a later episode, as the story takes a gruesome twist. All the casting is exceptional, with Iris and Rose just as they are described in Elizabeth Macneal’s atmospheric novel.

Also excellent is the way fairytale elements are woven into the imagery, and the repeated emphasis on ripe apples and blackberries, echoing Christina Rossetti’s poem Goblin Market. It’s tantalising to get only this first taste.

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