KATHRYN FLETT’S My TV Week: Addictive tale of sex, drugs and slavery

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KATHRYN FLETT’S My TV Week: Addictive tale of sex, drugs and slavery

THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANNIE LANGTONITVx  Rating: Based on the 2019 Costa First Novel winner by Sara Collins, this tells the story of a Jamaican

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THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANNIE LANGTON

ITVx 

Rating:

Based on the 2019 Costa First Novel winner by Sara Collins, this tells the story of a Jamaican slave girl on a 19th-century sugar plantation who ends up working in service in England. 

Here she falls in love with – spicy twist! – her new mistress, Frenchwoman Marguerite, who’s married to cold, controlling aristocrat George Benham. 

Depressed after two miscarriages, Marguerite is now addicted to laudanum, a fashionable Georgian blend of opium and high-strength alcohol.

Does a mixed-race, same-sex love story set against a backdrop of slavery and drug addiction sound like fun? 

Based on the 2019 Costa First Novel winner by Sara Collins, this tells the story of a Jamaican slave girl on a 19th-century sugar plantation who ends up working in service in England

Based on the 2019 Costa First Novel winner by Sara Collins, this tells the story of a Jamaican slave girl on a 19th-century sugar plantation who ends up working in service in England

Based on the 2019 Costa First Novel winner by Sara Collins, this tells the story of a Jamaican slave girl on a 19th-century sugar plantation who ends up working in service in England

Well, even after an arresting – in every sense – opening scene (a sleeping Frannie is woken by police in bed next to Marguerite, who appears to have been murdered), for much of the first episode I wasn’t convinced I needed to follow what looked like it could be a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training course masquerading as entertainment. 

However, after being accused of murder – the equally bloodied body of George was lying downstairs – Frannie slowly reveals her version of events in jail, via flashbacks and voiceovers. And what a compelling tale it turns out to be.

When authors adapt their own work for television, as Collins has here, they sometimes fail to translate all that on-the-page atmosphere to the very different medium of telly. 

However, as it unfolds, this four-parter never loses its grip on the viewer for a moment, all the way to its moving conclusion (no spoilers here).

En route, there’s great dialogue (‘Laudanum will be more use to me than law,’ says Frannie to her solicitor, while would-be writer Marguerite observes of Lord Byron, ‘a man is merely spoiled by his vices, while a woman is soiled by hers’) and fine direction (everything unfolds at the right pace, lit gorgeously). 

Here she falls in love with – spicy twist! – her new mistress, Frenchwoman Marguerite (pictured), who’s married to cold, controlling aristocrat George Benham

Here she falls in love with – spicy twist! – her new mistress, Frenchwoman Marguerite (pictured), who’s married to cold, controlling aristocrat George Benham

Here she falls in love with – spicy twist! – her new mistress, Frenchwoman Marguerite (pictured), who’s married to cold, controlling aristocrat George Benham

The classy supporting cast is impeccable too – kudos to Steven Mackintosh as wicked plantation owner John Langton, Frannie’s first ‘owner’, and to Stephen Campbell Moore (whose real-life partner, interestingly, is Sophie Cookson who plays the tragic Marguerite) as George Benham. 

Hats off, too, to Jodhi May as George’s interfering cousin Hep, and Patrick Martins as ‘Laddie’ Cambridge, who was also brought to England from a slave plantation and has a pivotal storyline.

TV drama is a collaborative process – writers/directors/actors sharing critical plaudits/takedowns – but the success of this show rests almost entirely on the shoulders of the actress playing Frannie, who appears in every scene. 

And while the series has been streamable on ITVX for months, hopefully now it’s just been shown on ITV1 a larger audience will get to appreciate Karla-Simone Spence’s magnetic, luminous, soulful performance.

Frankly, I couldn’t take my eyes off the 27-year-old south Londoner, who – you read it here first! – could soon have her pick of the Bonds/Marvels/Barbies. 

A little online stalking (aka ‘research’) also revealed that her younger brother is the Premier League defender Djed Spence. What a talented family.

A VERY DOWN-TO-EARTH DUCHESS 

The Duchess and Her Magical Kingdom

Wednesdays, 9pm, More 4 

Rating:

There’s been no shortage of docs taking peeks behind the aristocratic scenes, however this new series following the creation of ‘Lilidorei’, Alnwick Castle’s new children’s playpark-cum-village – part-Disney, part-Harry Potter and mostly (expensively) bonkers – raises the bar.

Jane Percy is the Duchess of Northumberland and chatelaine of Alnwick, best known for ‘playing’ Hogwarts in the Potter movies. Behind her glamorous, mildly eccentric façade, down-to-earth (well, ish; she lives in a castle) Jane has a gift for monetising the estate and is a gift to telly, too. 

There’s been no shortage of docs taking peeks behind the aristocratic scenes, however this new series following the creation of ‘Lilidorei’ raises the bar

There’s been no shortage of docs taking peeks behind the aristocratic scenes, however this new series following the creation of ‘Lilidorei’ raises the bar

There’s been no shortage of docs taking peeks behind the aristocratic scenes, however this new series following the creation of ‘Lilidorei’ raises the bar

In Alnwick’s chapel, Jane tells us that ‘unfortunately, every wedding we’ve ever had in here has ended in divorce… but apart from that it’s a lovely place to have a wedding’. 

However, when George (Amazing Spaces) Clarke’s sombre voiceover says ‘building the world’s largest play structure on top of an ancient underground pipe isn’t cheap or easy’ it’s clear that Jane’s pet project Lilidorei is a magical money pit.

Keep an eye out for an outstanding supporting cast too, including gung-ho senior gardener Ben who gives his all – in the altogether – when hosting a naturists’ tour of the castle’s grounds. Priceless.

Tommy’s a superhero

Terry Boyle was the man with Down’s syndrome wrongly suspected of murder in Line Of Duty. Now Tommy Jessop, who played him, has made a documentary (Tommy Jessop Goes To Hollywood, pictured, BBC iPlayer)

Terry Boyle was the man with Down’s syndrome wrongly suspected of murder in Line Of Duty. Now Tommy Jessop, who played him, has made a documentary (Tommy Jessop Goes To Hollywood, pictured, BBC iPlayer)

Terry Boyle was the man with Down’s syndrome wrongly suspected of murder in Line Of Duty. Now Tommy Jessop, who played him, has made a documentary (Tommy Jessop Goes To Hollywood, pictured, BBC iPlayer)

Terry Boyle was the man with Down’s syndrome wrongly suspected of murder in Line Of Duty. 

Now Tommy Jessop, who played him, has made a documentary (Tommy Jessop Goes To Hollywood, BBC iPlayer) with his film-maker brother Will that sees them pitching a ‘superhero movie’ which shows disabled actors don’t have to play victims. 

With cameos from Game Of Thrones’s Kit Harington and Scream’s Neve Campbell, it’s inspiring stuff. 

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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