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Desperate Romantics (BBC-2 Drama, Aidan Turner, Rafe Spall)

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Desperate Romantics BBC-2 Drama, Aidan Turner, Rafe Spall

Period drama serial Desperate Romantics follows the lives of three young men, John Millais (Samuel Barnett), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Aidan Turner) and William Holman Hunt (Rafe Spall) who set out to change the face of English art forever. In the mid 19th century the trio are determined to shake up the staid Victorian “art scene”, calling themselves the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, the men hope to challenge the mannerist movement (which followed on from the Raphaelite) which was then in vogue.

Fred Walters (Sam Crane) ingratiates himself with the trio by finding the model Lizzie Siddal (Amy Manson) who quickly makes an impression on all three men (as well as Walters). As their reputation grows they are taken under the wing of the highly influential art critic John Ruskin (Tom Hollander).

Written by Peter Bowker in fine style, Desperate Romantics is a great series, focusing heavily on the jealousy and lust (lots of lust in fact as well as the poverty and hunger) that guided the trio to greatness. The casting is first rate too – especially the brilliant Tom Hollander as Ruskin.

When shown in Australia (March 2010) and other territories the episodes were rebranded as 3×120 minutes.

Cast: AIDAN TURNER as Dante Gabriel Rosetti; RAFE SPALL as William Holman Hunt; SAMUEL BARNETT as John Millais; SAM CRANE as Fred Walters; TOM HOLLANDER as John Ruskin; AMY MANSON as Lizzie Siddal; ZOE TAPPER as Effie Ruskin; POLLY KEMP as Mrs Siddal; SIOBHAN O’NEILL as Gwen; JENNIE JACQUES as Annie Miller; GEORGIE GLEN as Mrs Ruskin

Writer: Peter Bowker / Producer: Ben Evans

UK / BBC-2 / 6×60 minute episodes / Broadcast Tuesday 21 July – 25 August 2009