Here’s a trailer for the BBC’s new supernatural series The Living And The Dead, starring Colin Morgan of Merlin and Humans fame. The show will premiere on BBC One on Tuesday 28 June (and available in its entirety on iPlayer from 17 June).
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— BBC iPlayer (@BBCiPlayer) June 14, 2016
Read an interview with Colin Morgan here.
And here’s an intro to the show by writer Ashley Pharaoh:
“Point a camera at a field of wheat on an English summer’s day. What do you see? A blue sky over yellow crop. A soft breeze moving the wheat like an inland sea. The murmur of a bee. It’s pretty. It’s comforting, nostalgic. But let’s leave the camera running. Keep our attention fixed on that same landscape. Perhaps a cloud slides across the sun, slowly darkening the yellow. Or a stronger gust of wind makes the branches in the trees grind. A crow caws. Now the English landscape can feel unsettling, a place drenched in a history that includes war and death and unhappiness. Eerie, that’s the word. And that was the starting place for The Living And The Dead, to see the skull beneath the skin of English pastoral.
“The series is set in an isolated Somerset valley in 1894, a place where the implications of the industrial revolution are still being keenly felt, a place where centuries of living a certain way of life are coming abruptly to an end. Into this place comes Nathan Appleby and his young wife, Charlotte. Nathan charming, intelligent, is a brilliant London psychologist, a pioneer in that new science. Many of his troubled patients come to him as a result of that Victorian obsession with death and the afterlife, damaged by mesmerism, mediums, Ouija boards, automatic writing. Nathan is a man of science, and believes that everything has a rational explanation. Charlotte Appleby is his vivacious, independent wife, herself something of a pioneer as a leading society photographer in London. When they inherit the run-down farm of Shepzoy House, none of their friends expect them to actually go and live there and learn to be farmers, but the Applebys have lived there for generations and his sense of duty and belonging is powerful.
“The early weeks are a joy. Yes, there is a lot to learn, and yes, some of their ideas about modernising the farm are met with surly incomprehension from their workers, but the sun shines and the wheat grows and harvest beckons. They love it. When they are with their workers, the Applebys behave exactly as a Victorian married couple of their class and position would behave, but when the last servant leaves and they are alone in their house, they have a very modern marriage, equal, sensual, frank.
“Then the parish vicar, Reverend Denning, brings his troubled young daughter Harriet to see Nathan. At first, Nathan thinks she is just having an especially difficult journey into adulthood, but she tells him things she couldn’t possibly know, in voices that she couldn’t possibly ever have heard. The voices of the dead. The Appleby dead. Even Nathan Appleby, man of science, is rattled. And then one of his most loyal and trusted workers inexplicably throws himself under the blades of a plough. Very quickly, the rural idyll is touched with darkness and fear.
“Story by story, episode by episode, Nathan’s belief in science is undermined and finally shattered: one of the children on the farm is haunted by the ghosts of mining boys who died a generation ago; a haunted mill; a murder victim; a demonic visitation from Civil War ghosts. As summer moves through harvest to autumn and then winter, the stories get darker and nastier, until the entire community is involved and threatened. Charlotte’s response is simple: even if there are ghosts, our responsibility is to our marriage, our workers, the baby that is growing inside her. But Nathan is not built that way, and his obsessive need to understand, to explain, drives him deeper and deeper, darker and darker, into the jaws of the afterlife.
“Nathan moves from the kind, loving, slightly reserved scientist of those sparkling early days to a driven, dark man struggling for his very soul. For as he investigates what seem to be arbitrary hauntings, he discovers a link between all of them, and that link is… Nathan Appleby.
“What is a ghost? If time is not linear, but a tangle of worm holes, then perhaps we are all ghosts. That is certainly a possibility that Nathan Appleby is forced to contemplate, for – almost from the start – he starts to see and hear very strange things. A window smashing in the middle of the night with no smashed windows to be found; a jet-trail high in a blue sky; car headlights rushing towards him on a summer night; a woman with an iPad. Such sightings would be weird enough to rattle the sanest man, but Nathan begins to realise that the someone in the future is not an arbitrary apparition, but a dangerous energy as obsessed with him as he is with ‘her’.
“What sort of man did he become that people are trying to reach back through time and threaten him and his family? Answer that question and perhaps – just perhaps – Nathan and Charlotte and their unborn child have a chance.
“It’s that something glimpsed out of the corner of your eye. That sigh in your ear. It’s the worm in a cider apple. The maggots in the dead deer. The sound of a crow on a summer’s day.
“Is that someone crying upstairs?