February 4th, 2021   Author: admin   The Long Song

“The Long Song” knows what an audience might expect from a period drama airing on the BBC, as it did in the UK in 2018, or under the PBS Masterpiece banner, as it will in the US starting on January 31. The camera, helmed with a steady hand by director Mahalia Belo, pans across still life scenes of porcelain curios and rumpled silks in a manse surrounded by gently swaying palm trees. “The life of a white missus on a Jamaican plantation,” a narrator (Doña Croll) intones, “be surely full of tribulation — from the scarcity of beef to the want of a fashionable hat.” Within seconds, the piercing screech of that “white missus” shatters the idyllic scene, and the acidic streak of sarcasm laden in the narrator’s words comes more clearly into focus. “If that be the story you want to hear, then be on your way. Go,” she says, voice snapping with brittle anger. “Be on your way! For the story I have to tell is quite a different one.”

That the tragic heroine of this story is Black slave July (Tamara Lawrance) rather than her corseted white mistress — played by period drama veteran Hayley Atwell, no less — immediately marks “The Long Song” as a very different kind of Masterpiece series. Outside of something like Andrew Davies’ 2019 “Sanditon” adaptation, which cast Crystal Clarke as a Jane Austen character born in the West Indies, there really haven’t been any PBS Masterpiece dramas that spotlight Black characters, let alone have them steer the entire series. “The Long Song,” an adaptation of Andrea Levy’s 2010 novel, not only centers a very specific Black character and experience, but deliberately dares any skittish viewers expecting something quite different to look away. (That this first Masterpiece series to prominently feature Black people is a slave narrative is unsurprising, and worthy of further examination in and of itself.)

Born into slavery on a sugarcane plantation, July gets taken from her mother as a child simply because the owner’s sister Caroline (Atwell) spots her out in the fields and thinks she’s cute. There are many painful scenes yet to come, but this one is particularly crushing in its simplicity. Her kidnapping, which alters the course of her life and devastates her mother (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), is nothing more than a casual whim from people who have no awareness of their own cruelty. This pattern repeats itself over and over again throughout the series, each time just as wrenching as the last. For instance: Caroline’s insistence on calling July “Marguerite,” the better to fuel her fantasies of being a fancy lady of the manor even in a humid country she doesn’t understand, is a stabbing indignity every time. (Atwell, an actor who typically radiates warmth, does a remarkable job of curdling the atmosphere of every room unlucky enough to have Caroline in it.) Particularly fraught is the heel turn from Robert Goodwin (Jack Lowden), a white Brit who initially sweeps July off her feet with promises of fidelity and fair wages for all the recently freed slaves on the plantation. And yet he sours the second the Black people in his employ stand up for themselves, twisting into a hard, gnarled version of the idealistic man July fell for.

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December 14th, 2018   Author: admin   Interviews - News - The Long Song

“I’m doing things that go against my instincts as a person”

Hayley Atwell admitted that she felt “disgusting” playing such an execrable character in BBC One’s adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel The Long Song, but that made it all the more important to inject “humanity” into the role.

The 36-year-old Agent Carter star plays Caroline Mortimer – a mistress who wields her power and status over a slave she plucks from her mother as a young child called July [played by Tamara Lawrance] during the final days of slavery in 19th century Jamaica.

Atwell says it would have been “reductive to play Caroline as a monster” and instead wanted to explore why Caroline did what she did, and what damage her systematic cruelty upon others ultimately did to her own soul.

“Caroline is so against my own value system and my own understanding but that was all the more reason that I wanted to put humanity in her,” the actress told Harper’s Bazaar UK at a screening for the series.

“Because it would be reductive to play her as a monster. That doesn’t give us anything, it doesn’t help us with the complex, intelligent question or conversation around it. I felt disgusting, and I felt gross but then I thought that’s how I’m meant to feel. I’m doing things going that against my instincts as a person.”

Atwell continued that Caroline didn’t really have much power or authority – despite being a sister of a plantation owner – and that her bullying behaviour is down to her own “insecurity and cowardice”

“Caroline has nothing that gives her any independent identity…. She gets a sense that the slaves are smarter than she is, and they know something about her that she doesn’t know about herself and therein lies how pathetic and almost endearing and awful she is,” she explained.

“It’s very textbook, I think, that bullying that comes from insecurity and cowardice, and where she tries to assert this authority that she doesn’t really have. I wanted to explore the psychological damage or the damage done to one’s psyche, when that person inflicts damage on someone else you think, ‘I bet she can’t live in her one skin’. She’s crawling in self-loathing.”

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September 26th, 2018   Author: admin   The Long Song

Hayley Atwell and Sir Lenny Henry will star in a TV adaptation of Andrea Levy’s bestselling novel The Long Song, the BBC has announced.

The three-part series will also star Tamara Lawrance and Jack Lowden.

Set during the final days of slavery in 19th-century Jamaica, the story follows the strong-willed young slave July, played by Lawrance.

Atwell plays the odious plantation owner Caroline Mortimer, while Lowden appears as Robert Goodwin, the charming new overseer who is determined to improve the plantation for the slaves and mistress alike.

Henry will play Godfrey in the BBC One series, which has been adapted by Sarah Williams from Levy’s book, and will be directed by Mahalia Belo.

The Long Song was shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker prize and was the recipient of the 2011 Walter Scott prize.

Lawrance, who previously appeared in King Charles III and Undercover, said of her character July: “She relishes mutiny with wit and courage; finding ways to win in spite of her circumstances. She also rings true to Jamaica’s national heroes – Nanny, Paul Bogle and Sam Sharpe – who, by standing up for their own humanity, shifted world history.

“I believe stories like these illuminate the legacy of slavery in relation to where we are today. It’s all still relevant!”

Also joining the cast are the EastEnders actor Dona Croll, The Boy With the Topknot star Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Ayesha Antoine. [Source]

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A cat-and-mouse drama, which focuses on the intense mental conflict between detectives and suspects. Comprising 12 stories set in four different countries, each takes place within the confines of a police interview suite.

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