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Passion, The (BBC 1999, Paul Nicholls, Gina McKee)

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A young couple discovers that no passion is without a price in this three-part drama set in an isolated village in the stunning North Devon countryside.

Every three years, as they have done for centuries, the villagers of Salthurst present a cycle of medieval Passion plays. The staging of this spiritual spectacular unites the ancient village. But this year, for the first time, a tradition has been broken – an outsider has been hired to play the role of Jesus – and not everyone approves.

Daniel (Paul Nicholls, EastEnders) is a 19-year-old actor possessed with an almost surreal stillness and calm. Nothing he has ever encountered equips him for the feverish intensity with which every villager prepares for the Passion play – or the hostility with which he is regarded by some.

Neil (Alastair Galbraith) and Ellie (Gina McKee, Our Friends in the North, Notting Hill) were once outsiders too. Now in their mid-30s, with two teenage children, their passion and generosity of spirit have come to symbolize the very heart of the village. Their contributions to the Passion play are vital – Neil composes the music and Ellie designs the costumes.

As the day of the performance approaches, Daniel and Ellie find themselves drawn into an illicit affair. Beyond attraction, they experience the kind of passion that happens only once in a lifetime.

Ripples of the affair spread throughout the close-knit community. Stunned by the strength of Neil’s love for Ellie, which respects her right to make an impossible choice, loyalties within the village begin to divide and fragment. As the Passion cycle revolves real-life events reach the breaking point.

production details
UK | BBC-1 – First Choice – Principal Pictures | 3×55 minutes | 2019

Writer: Mick Ford
Script Editor: Jake Riddell
Music: Simon Lacey
Executive Producers: Charles Elton, Moira Williams, Pedr James, Maggie Russell
Producer: Miriam Segal
Director: Catherine Morshead.

cast
Paul Nicholls as Daniel
Gina McKee as Ellie
Alastair Galbraith as Neil
Freddie Jones as George
Jack Hulland as Postman / Gregory
Jemima Rooper as Alice
Roberta Taylor as Jane
Matyelok Gibbs as Dinah
David Hargreaves as Dave
Amanda Walker as Marjorie
Richard Graham as Michael
Juliet Cowan as Clare
Peter Wight as Ron
Adrian Scarborough as Martin
David Mahoney as Geoff / Noah
Steve Bennett as Robert / Mrs Noah
Richard Allen as Andy
John Surman as Tom
Jason Done as Christopher