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A Respectable Trade (BBC Drama, Warren Clarke)

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A Respectable Trade BBC Drama

In four part period BBC drama A Respectable Trade, adapted by Philippa Gregory from her own novel, it is 1788 in Bristol where governess Frances Scott (Emma Fielding) finds her life undergoing a dramatic change when she marries ambitious ship owning slave trader Josiah Cole (Warren Clarke).

When she marries Cole, Frances doesn’t realise he expects her to help run his business. When she does get involved she develops an attraction to slave Mehuru (Ariyon Baker).

Speaking to the press Emma Fielding felt that the affair between Frances and Mehuru was key to getting across some important facts about the slave trade saying “the love story is a more acceptable way of showing slavery. This way it’s not just a history lesson.”

There was a strong performance from Richard Briers who played nicely against type as the nasty and rapacious Sir Charles Fairley.

Cast: Warren Clarke as Josiah Cole; Anna Massey as Sarah Cole; Emma Fielding as Frances Cole, nee Scott; Ariyon Bakare as Mehuru; Richard Briers as Sir Charles Fairley; Jenny Agutter as Lady Scott; Simon Williams as Lord Scott; Tanya Moodie as Rachel; Jenny Jules as Elizabeth

Writer: Philippa Gregory (from her novel) / Music: Julian Nott / Costume Design: Frances Tempest / Production Design: Anthony Ainsworth / Producer: Ruth Baumgarten / Executive Producers: Kevin Menton, Nigel Warren-Green, Ruth Caleb, Michael Wearing / Director: Suri Krishnamma

UK / BBC One – Irish Screen Entertainment / 4×50 minutes / 19 April – 10 May 1998