In The Living And The Dead we are taken back to Somerset 1894. When a pioneering Victorian psychologist and his vivacious young wife are brought back to the family estate after the death of his mother, he is soon faced with one disturbing case after another.
Are all these strange events linked merely by coincidence, or is there something more sinister – more supernatural – going on at Shepzoy?
In an introduction to the series creator Ashley Pharoah remarked… 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.
Interviewed by the BBC star Colin Morgan said that the relationship between Nathan and his wife Charlotte was at the heart of the series. “The relationship between Nathan and Charlotte is very much the centre of the drama – it’s the heart and soul of it. They are two people desperately in love and desperately looking for happiness. They can’t possibly comprehend what they are about to take on, or what is going to take on them. What awaits them in Shepzoy, the house that Nathan grew up in, is a cask of the unknown and a fair amount of horror, which is both dramatic and difficult for them to overcome. But essentially it’s a story about a couple whose relationship is put to the test.”
Speaking about the series itself he also said “It is a dark series and it was a very challenging but fun shoot. It was very creative and collaborative. We were lucky to be working with such fantastic scripts, which were genuinely very engaging to read. The joy of getting to do projects that are close to your heart and that you feel very passionate and driven about is that when you are on the set filming, you do catch yourself thinking, ‘We’re actually doing it.”
Meanwhile Charlotte Spencer said it was Pharoah’s writing that drew her to the project in the first place saying “The way he’s written Charlotte Appleby is just incredible, because you don’t usually get that from a period drama. Women back then had to conform, whereas Charlotte Appleby doesn’t so much, she’s a modern woman.”
There’s a part of me that can relate to what she’s going through when I’m playing her and she’s just such a great character.
UK / BBC One – Monastic Productions – BBC Wales Drama / 6×60 minute episodes / Broadcast from 28 June 2016
Creator: Ashley Pharoah / Executive Producers: Ashley Pharoah, Faith Penhale, Katie McAleese / Producer: Eliza Mellor
Colin Morgan as Nathan Appleby
Charlotte Spencer as Charlotte Appleby
Nicholas Woodeson as Matthew Denning
Kerrie Hayes as Gwen Pearce
Tallulah Haddon as Harriet Denning
Malcolm Storry as Gideon Langtree
Steve Oram as John Roebuck
Marianne Oldham as Mary Denning
David Sterne as Abel North
Joanna David as Victoria Appleby
Elizabeth Berrington as Maud Hare
Pooky Quesnel as Agnes Thatcher
Joel Gilman as Jack Langtree
Isaac Andrews as Charlie Thatcher
Liam McMahon as Tinker
Chloe Pirrie as Lara