Sunday 23 October 2016

There's gold in this drama, but not in Lady C

John Boland

Published 13/09/2015 | 02:30

Daithi Keane, who's the creator/director of TG4's ambitious new four-part drama An Klondike, has described the HBO series Deadwood as "a big influence", though "huge" would be nearer the mark.

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Yet, if his creation has all the grubby look of its acclaimed, though short-lived, American precursor (it was axed in 2006 after three seasons), it has its own confident tone, too, and most viewers of its striking first episode will want to see more. Connemara and Co Mayo were the persuasively-filmed locations that stood in for the northwest Canada of the late 1890s, and Marcus Fleming's script, which was as much in Irish as English, was also persuasive, given the number of Irish hopefuls who ended up in the Yukon area in search of gold.

Three brothers are at the drama's heart, each of them with an interestingly individual personality, and the secondary characters in this opening episode were distinctive, too, while there was enough action and tension to satisfy die-hard western fans.

Certainly it was more arresting than the one-off BBC1 film of Lady Chatterley's Lover, which wasn't a patch on the 1993 mini-series directed by Ken Russell. That at least had a charismatic turn from Sean Bean as gamekeeper Mellors, whereas in the new version Richard Madden was a poor man's Poldark and had zero chemistry with Halliday Grainger as the adulterous Constance (below).

Oh, and there was no raunchy sex, either, nor any of DH Lawrence's four-letter explicitness - "arse" being the rudest word here. Not a book "you would wish your wife or servants to read", the 1960 obscenity trial was famously told by prosecuting counsel Mervyn Griffith-Jones, but you'd feel safe in letting them have a look at this coy and anaemic version.

The only striking departure from earlier versions was the depiction of the crippled Sir Clifford Chatterley, who in James Norton's playing elicited a sympathy usually denied to him - helped by the fact that his unfaithful wife evinced no warmth whatsoever.

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