Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Finds Tom Hardy in Evil Mood in Taboo and Looks at the Life of Carrie Fisher in Strange Things

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Finds Tom Hardy in Evil Mood in Taboo and Looks at the Life of Carrie Fisher in Strange Things

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair McKay

THERE are tall ships and long horizons in Taboo (BBC iPlayer). There is a man on a white horse. He arrives in Olde London, that CGI city, where the spire of St Paul's dominates. He wears a hood. Any resemblance to the Grim Reaper is deliberate.

There is a dead man, with pennies on his eyes; a funeral. There is dark talk about grave robbers. The body should be buried two-feet deeper, someone says, to deter resurrectionists. "He's buried to the depth of my love," says the widow. "Last year he disgraced me."

The show's creator, Steven Knight, has been in this territory before, with Peaky Blinders, which applied the logic of murder ballads and American gangsters to Birmingham and remade the second city as a place of violent intrigue. Taboo is built on a grander scale entirely. Ridley Scott's name is in the credits and he doesn't do things by halves. The hooded star, Tom Hardy, is credited as a co-creator, along with his father Edward.

When Taboo was commissioned, Knight caused controversy by suggesting that the drama would depict the East India Company as an a malign organisation combining the characteristics of the CIA, the NSA (the US National Security Agency) and "the biggest, baddest multinational corporation on Earth, all rolled into one self-righteous religiously-motivated monolithic Empire. So you can see immediately that while the action is set in 1813 it is also about now, albeit a now where the moral compass is wonky.

The bad guy, James Delaney (Hardy), is also the hero, though there are awful rumours about him as well as an intermittent sense of something supernatural beneath the troubled furnace of his stovepipe hat. He drinks brandy, not tea, and is served by Brace, a broken-down, bent-buckled butler (David Hayman, playing a pirate version of Private Frazer from Dad's Army). …

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