Tag: BBC One

Small Island (Series BBC One 2009)

small-island4 Kernels

Streaming on Britbox and available elsewhere is Small Island, adapted from a novel by Andrea Levy.  It apparently streamed on PBS Masterpiece in 2010, which I obviously missed.  If it hadn’t been for the Period Drama Facebook Group, I probably would have missed this one altogether. I watched the two-part series (90-minute episodes) in its entirety last night, staying up past my bedtime.  It was well worth the lack of sleep.

The story, in the beginning, flashes back and forth between the lives of two young Jamaicans – Hortense (Naomie Harris) and Michael (Ashley Walters) – pre-World War 2. On the other side of the world, it’s Bernard (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Queenie (Ruth Wilson). Each has their own dreams – Hortense of marrying Michael; Michael rebellious in his upbringing; Queenie escaping her childhood and the pig farm; and Bernard a shy man, living with his father.

Eventually, life splits Hortense and Michael.  Queenie marries Bernard to escape returning home to her parents, and then the war breaks out.  War, as you know, throws everyone’s lives in various directions with new challenges.

The main focus of the story is the character of Queenie, who doesn’t have a prejudice bone in her body when it comes to black people.  When Benedict leaves for war and she’s left alone in the house, she offers three airmen housing. One of the young men is the charismatic Michael, a handsome and alluring man in uniform.  Queenie willingly succumbs to his seduction and the next day he’s off on another mission.

As the story continues, she meets Gilbert, also from Jamaica and they form a friendship.  He marries Hortense, and the two of them eventually live in Queenie’s home because Benedict never returned after the war. I could continue the remainder of the series but will spare you spoilers.

The story, of course, shows the bias against the black Jamaicans among the English. Jamaican children under English rule were taught to love the “motherland” and obviously Gilbert did as a child and adult. Unfortunately, when he’s in the country who he believes supports and accepts him as an Englishman too, he finds the stark reality that prejudice against his skin color is no different than it is in the United States.

I enjoyed this two-part series and recommend it to those looking for another pre-WW2 or WW2 storyline that delves into a different aspect of human behavior during those years. It’s well acted and packaged to please.

 

 

 

Death in Paradise Star Kris Marshall is Leaving – But Why? | Star Reveals Reasons

The winds of change are blowing through Saint Marie. Here, Kris Marshall talks through his journey with the show.

Source: Death in Paradise star Kris Marshall is leaving – but why? | Star reveals reasons for leaving the BBC1 series

It appears Series 6 in 2017 has six episodes.  Then, to top if off, Kris is leaving the series!  I don’t blame him, though, because just like the first star of the show, he’s leaving for family reasons since it requires him to live six months a year in the Caribbean.

Wishing him the best for new and great roles in the future!

Lilies (2007 BBC One TV Series)

lilies3 Kernels

It was a dark and stormy night, so I binged watched Lilies streaming on Netflix. This is an older BBC One eight-episode series regarding three young girls growing into womanhood in Liverpool after the Great War (that’s WWI in case you need to know).  The series was not renewed, and as a result, the last episode leaves you with many unanswered questions regarding where do their lives go from here.

The story focuses on six main characters:

  • The widowed father who is a grumpy, angry man, yelling at everyone in the household.  When he drinks, he becomes violent.  He is called “Dadda.”
  • Billy the son, who is a closet homosexual.
  • Iris the eldest daughter who takes care of the household.
  • May the middle daughter who gets in “trouble” (the pregnant kind of trouble), having an affair with her married employer.
  • Ruby the younger and outspoken lass of the group, who frankly I had a difficult time understanding due to her heavy accent. However, she gives you a wonderful education on corsets.
  • A Catholic priest, Father Melia, who falls in love with Iris and is sent away.

The story follows each of their lives during eight episodes focusing on their various jobs that come and go, as well as love interests for the three girls.  The series is not the best, and since it was not renewed, obviously it didn’t do well overseas.  If you’re looking for a period drama, it does have entertainment value even though it won’t be at the top of your absolutely love-it list.  Apparently, it’s loosely based on Heidi Thomas’ mother’s story about life in Liverpool after the war.

The last episode leaves a huge number of questions about where their lives end up afterward.  Does Billy finally come out?  Probably not due to the times and the fact it was a crime.  Does the priest return as a priest?  Does he tell Iris he loves her and leaves his calling to marry her?  Does May’s lover finally return to marry her and be a father to the baby?  Does Ruby end up marrying the German butcher she first hated and move to Russia?  Does Dadda finally get to find happiness?  Alas, we shall never know.

 

Upstairs Downstairs (TV Series 2010-2012)

3 Kernelsupstairs

I watched this series this past weekend, and though some of it seemed familiar, I’m not sure I’ve seen all of the episodes before.  Nevertheless, I was able to enjoy it through fresh eyes unaware of much of the storyline.

Having not seen the original Upstairs Downstairs (the 1971 series set in the years 1903-1930), this version picks up in the mid-1930’s and continues pre-WW2 at the same location of 165 Eaton Place in the Belgravia neighborhood.  The master of the estate is Sir Hallam Holland (as I take a moment to relish the last name) and Lady Agnes who purchases the “ghastly old mausoleum” by cleaning and renovating the run-down interior.

Lady Agnes hires a new staff and Rose Buck (Jean Marsh who played in the 1971 series) returns as the housekeeper.  Much like Downton Abbey, including an opening scene during the credits of the shiny chandelier, the story follows life upstairs and downstairs.  Sir Hallam is a diplomat, and his wife lives to run the household and be a hostess to high society on London’s scene.  As the years go by such famous people as the Duke of Kent, Wallis Simpson, the Kennedys from the U.S., and other royalty eat at their table.  Upstairs has its problems, of course, mostly centered around an out-of-control Lady Persephone, who is Lady Agnes’ sister.

Downstairs is the usual love/hate relationship between the staff.  The main focus is on the butler, housekeeper, cook, housemaid, footman, parlormaid, and chauffeur. Their secrets from the past often irritate and cause friction, much like Downton Abbey, while they live to serve the somewhat dysfunctional family upstairs.

The story is set pre-war and includes King Edward VIII’s abdication, and the numerous attempts to avoid war with Germany.  The first two seasons lead the audience through the years with interest, along with heart-wrenching scenes as England steps up to help the Jewish children fleeing the rising persecution of Jews. A little family scandal of an aunt being a lesbian causes a stir, as well as Persephone’s attraction and affair with a German officer.  Watching London prepare for a war they hope to avoid, helps to underscore the wounds that still abide from WWI and the fear of another looming on the horizon.

The cast is strong, the costumes well done, and the flavor of the 1930’s resonates throughout. Keeley Hawes who plays Lady Agnes is beautiful, as well as Claire Foy, her sister. Red lipstick, silk dresses, and wavy hair make them both stunningly gorgeous. Ed Stoppard, who plays Sir Hallam Holland, has the right uppity air for an aristocrat who is too busy to keep his marriage afloat. Downstairs you’ll quickly recognize Anne Reid as the cook, who plays in Last Tango in Halifax. She has the usual rough snippy edges about her personality. All in all, I found no complaint in the acting.

Season two, unfortunately, quickly ends in family tragedy for the Hollands.  War is declared, and everyone takes their part to do their duty.  Sir Holland is in uniform at the closing scene heading off probably to the war office, as well as his wife is in uniform telling her children she is off to help in the ambulance corps.  Unfortunately, the story ends here, but your interedownstairsst in each of their lives is not satisfied or brought to a happy ending especially when you know of the horrors that lie ahead for London.  As they march off to war, the audience is left with the uncertainty of what it will bring to each of the characters and leaves a very unsatisfying taste with no closure. From what I read, Season One had a booming audience, while Season Two slowly dwindled probably leading to its death.

You will see many similarities with Downton Abbey in this up and down tale of life for the upper and lower class.  It’s definitely not as good as others but, nevertheless, it’s worth the watch if you’re looking for the similar scenario filmed prior to the infamous Julian Fellowes’ soap opera regarding the Crawley family.  It’s now streaming on Hulu and available on Amazon Prime for free with the first episode The Fledgling

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