Posts Tagged ‘Desperate Romantics’

I’ve been too busy to blog for the last few weeks due to various commitments and hassles – sorry! However, I have still found time to watch a few costume dramas and am going to try to write a few thoughts on those I’ve seen.

One of the series I have been watching is the new BBC drama Desperate Romantics, which focuses on the lives of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. So it seemed like a good time to watch The Impressionists, another BBC series about another brotherhood of artists, starring Julian Glover and Richard Armitage as the older and younger Claude Monet, which I somehow managed to miss a  few years ago.

Richard Armitage as the young Claude Monet

Richard Armitage as the young Claude Monet

There are a lot of similarities in theme between the two series, since both focus on small, close-knit groups of young painters who challenged and in the end triumphed over the artistic establishment. However, as dramas, they are very different to watch. The Impressionists is directed by Tim Dunn who has also made art and history documentaries, and, as far as I could tell, sticks close to the facts of the artists’ lives, with an announcement at the start of each episode telling viewers: “This is a true story.”  The BBC press pack says that it is based on “archive letters, records and interviews from the time.” By contrast, Desperate Romantics takes wild liberties with what really happened, and has an announcement at the start of each episode stressing that it is fiction inspired by fact. Anyway, I don’t want to say too much about Desperate Romantics in this posting since I’m still trying to work out whether I loved or hated it – a full review will hopefully follow soon when I’ve sorted out my thoughts.


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Just a quick taster of a few coming costume drama attractions on British TV this autumn and winter … these are nearly all BBC series or films, with one from ITV. I don’t think Channel 4 has announced its autumn season yet, but will hope to post something about that as and when it does.

The most eagerly awaited series has to be the new Sandy Welch adaptation of Emma, and there has also been a fair bit of information about a Cranford follow-up in store at Christmas – here’s a link to a fan site on the series –  but there are also several other goodies to look forward to:

Desperate Romantics – on BBC2, a major new six-part series about the Pre-Raphaelites, apparently starting later this month – written by Peter Bowker who scripted  Blackpool (not really a costume drama but I loved it) and also the latest version of  Wuthering Heights.  Starring Aidan Turner, Rafe Spall, Tom Hollander, Samuel Barnett.
There is already a fan site for this series which has brought together a lot of info, interviews and pictures.

Garrow’s Law – on BBC1, a four-part 18th-century legal drama inspired by the life of pioneering barrister William Garrow, starring Andrew Buchan, who was in Cranford, and Alun Armstrong.

Small Island – two-part drama on BBC1,  adapted from Andrea Levy’s novel and set in 1940s Jamaica and London. Starring Ruth Wilson, who took the title role in the Andrew Davies version of Jane Eyre, with Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo, Ashley Walters and Naomie Harris.  

Land Girls – new BBC1 daytime drama about the Second World War, with an impressive cast including Nathaniel Parker and Christine Bottomley – this is apparently being shown in September:

Enid Blyton, Gracie Fields and Margot Fonteyn – three one-off dramas for BBC4 which all look to have really impressive casts, especially the first of these, which stars Helena Bonham-Carter as Blyton, with Matthew Macfadyen and Denis Lawson. The Gracie Fields film stars Jane Horrocks of Little Voice fame, and the Margot film stars Anne-Marie Duff, who played Queen Elizabeth I in The Virgin Queen – other casting hasn’t been announced for these two yet.
As well as the general press release, here’s a link to another release with more detail about the Enid Blyton drama.

Wuthering Heights –  on ITV, this adaptation has already been shown in the US but not over here – it is supposed to be coming up here this autumn or maybe at Christmas, and is adapted by Peter Bowker, starring Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley. There are rumours this could be the “last ITV costume drama” – I certainly hope not, and I find it very hard to believe that will be the case in the medium to longer term!

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Passing on another link – this time to the BBC’s press release about a new drama series coming up this year on BBC2, Desperate Romantics, which traces the lives and loves of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I’ve seen a couple of good exhibitions of Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the last couple of years and will look forward to the series.  Sounds like a good cast, including Rafe Spall and Tom Hollander.

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