Ripper Street season 4

Ripper Street is back…

…and a good thing too!

Season 4 begins in 1897 with Queen Victoria celebrating her diamond jubilee. Edmund Reid (the great Matthew Macfadyen) has retired from the force and left Whitechapel for good. However he soon finds himself drawn back to Whitechapel when he discovers that his old friend Isaac Bloom (Justin Avoth, Merlin) is set to hang for a brutal murder; a murder of which Reid believes he is innocent.

Again the grimy streets of Victorian Whitechapel are well depicted and we even get the front of the notorious Newgate Prison.

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The actors are brilliant in this and the detail is such that is should be lauded but it is not. The second season flagged a bit but the third certainly improved and I have high hopes for this season.

It is currently on Amazon Prime…Enjoy!


Sherlock Holmes Christmas Special

9d5c71ac-183d-46a1-bf70-5c4a3c3cdd30-620x372I know we are not really anywhere Christmas but things have to be put in place to allow for a rather pleasant festive celebration. For instance we need to start off with a trip to our local church (which is a beautiful Victorian building) along with Christmas Dinner as traditional as possible, gifts to exchange, games to play, a variety of drink both alcoholic and non, finger food exquisitely prepared by my good hand and well behaved children.

All in all a very Victorian celebration…however televisual feasts should not be out of the question either and of course the ‘Christmas Special’. We’ve had many over the years from ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ to ‘Only Fools and Horses’ but this year we have ‘Sherlock’ and it looks to be a cracker!

Here is a trailer:

Bleak House (BBC) 2005

bleak-houseBleak House was first published in 19 monthly installments between March 1852 and September 1853. The BBC TV adaptation, written by the award-winning Andrew Davies, comprised a one-hour opening episode followed by 14 half-hour episodes back in 2005.

It has now come to my house on Blu Ray and the quality is superb.

This has a stellar and somewhat surprising cast with Anna Maxwell Martin, Carey Mulligan, the wonderful Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame, brilliant Charles Dance and Alun Armstrong along side Phil Davies, Alistair McGowan, Johnny Vegas, Pauline Collins, Matthew Kelly and even Lisa Tarbuck…and it all works fantastically!

From Nigel Stafford-Clark ‘Bold. Fresh. Imaginative” said the BBC’s Head of Drama, Jane Tranter. She was talking about adapting Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. Andrew Davies and I had collaborated successfully on two Trollope adaptations, The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right.

Now we had been asked by the BBC if we wanted to have a go at Dickens’ Bleak House. But Jane wanted a new approach, something unexpected, rather than the well-established routine of ‘four hours on Sunday nights at 9pm’. The idea came while I was leafing through the book’s introduction. Bleak House was written to be serialised in twenty parts – one a month. Why not mirror Dickens’ original concept – twenty parts, half-an-hour each? Run them twice a week before the watershed. Bring Dickens back to the mainstream popular audience he was writing for’.

WIth casting it was “She lives in London. It’s not out the question.” Our casting director Kate Rhodes James was talking about Gillian Anderson, known to millions as Scully in The X-Files. We had seen her performance in Terence Davies’ period feature The House of Mirth. She would be perfect for Lady Dedlock, one of the key roles. But how to penetrate the cordon of managers and agents that normally surround a major American star to protect them from doing anything so foolish as British television?

Encouraged by Kate, we sent her the script. Encouraged, rather than discouraged, by her agent, Gillian read it and said yes. We were elated. Our elation was short-lived. There were still eighty five parts to cast. Forty of them were principal characters. If we were serious about bringing Dickens back to a mainstream popular audience, we needed to include actors with whom that audience would feel familiar.

I cannot speak highly enough of this adaptation and you can read it online here

Ripper Street saved!

9553149Good news for those who are a fan of Ripper Street, me and many others it appears as it has been rescued.

The Victorian detective drama with a fantastic eye for detail was cancelled by the BBC earlier this year after two seasons because of poor ratings. TV execs…are ratings everything?

However the fans fought back after an online campaign and is returning for a third series through a deal between the British broadcaster and online retailer Amazon…hurrah!

Filming begins in May on the new series, which will be shown first on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service, before airing on BBC television.

Matthew Macfadyen and Jerome Flynn return as 19th-century police fighting crime in the sordid streets of London’s East End.

BBC drama boss Ben Stephenson said Wednesday that the deal was “an exceptional opportunity” to bring the show back that would please fans while freeing up BBC money for new drama series.


Came across ‘Fingersmith’ on the Drama Channel based on he book by


Susan Trinder is a ‘fingersmith’, that is a thief who lives in a London slum with Mrs.Sucksby who takes in unwanted babies and has looked after her ‘Sue’ since she was a baby.

A scam passes there way by a man who gambled all his money away and Sue signs on to swindle rich Maud Lilly out of 40,000 pounds.

Maud is an orphan who lives with her uncle, but what exactly is going on in the Lilly house? Sue will pose as Maud’s maid so that Mr.Rivers, another swindler make her fall in love with him, eventually marry her and then madhouse…then the money heirs.

Interesting plot, Susan and Maud have a lesbian relationship but the whole series is played out tastefully. From 2005 and stars Elaine Cassidy as Maud and Sally Hawkins as Sue. Imelda Staunton and Charles Dance have some small roles but all in all it’s very good.

Trouble at Mill?


Channel 4 have produced another excellent period piece.

Episode 1.

‘The Mill’ story lines are drawn from events from mills across the area and time. Set in 1830 the early Victorian era.

The unlucky Quarry Bank Mill slaves, staff, workers (based real people’s lives) in the throws of the industrial revolution and the change that is too come.

The first episode shows the appalling conditions the children had to work under. It’s interesting considering the current ‘zero hour contracts’ have taken away many of rights that so many reformers worked so hard to gain.

We see how little control they have over their own lives, how open to both physical and sexual abuse they are and how at odds the mill owner and his wife are. He business man, she pious Christian.


In the mill be find out the children as young as nine work 12-hour shifts for a new class of mill-owning families they stop at nothing to make more and more money.

But these ‘white slaves of England’ are about to kick back and are led by feisty apprentices are led by Esther Price, and with the arrival of Daniel Bate, young engineer and an agitator proves a catalyst for change.

This is very, well written and researched.

You can catch it here.

Time Team: Lincoln Jail

Untitled 7A Time Team special presented by the recently knighted Sir Tony Robinson and experts from hit show. So the Time Team have visited Lincoln Castle to film a programme exposing the horrors of punishment at the site.

The castle was used as a Victorian jail and is still home to Lincoln Crown Court.

The episode shows a brutal and somewhat bizarre Victorian experiment that pushed prisoners to their limits of their endurance.

In solitude, mind numbing punishments would take the prisoners to the very edge (and in some cases over) of sanity. “Some went mad, many died, and the prison regime broke down in shocking circumstances, in this grim jail in the heart of the city, something went badly wrong.”

Sir Tony, Phil Harding and Alex Langlands, will trace the story of punishment over the course 1,000 years.

You can see the episode here

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