When Nathan Appleby and his wife move back to his family estate after his mother becomes ill, how will the ghosts of the past- and future- play on their relationship and the survival of the villagers as supernatural events begin to overwhelm them?
The Living and the Dead
Network: BBC One
Genre(s):Horror, Drama, Supernatural
Cast: Colin Morgan, Charlotte Spencer, Kerrie Hayes, Elizabeth Berrington, Nicolas Woodeson, Malcolm Storry.
The Living and the Dead, Season One Review
Well, let me just start by saying this program has messed me up- big time. Ever seen that creepy horror film ‘the Others’? If that messed you up, then this show will screw with your head so much your neck will do a hundred-an-eighty degree twist.
Season one, available on BBC Iplayer, thus far compromises 6 scary and confusing episodes. The only reason I pressed play was Mr Colin Morgan’s lovely face and I’m glad I did. The show was amazing- well-shot, beautifully acted, haunting and atmospheric. But also disturbing and at times absolutely tragic.
The show opens in the 19th century with Colin Morgan’s Nathan Appleby and his loving wife Charlotte Appleby heading back to Nathan’s childhood home, where his mother has been taken ill. As her condition worsens, the couple decide to stay at the farm where she resides rather than return to London, where Nathan practices psychology and Charlotte photography.
From the beginning, the characters represent different sides to the era: Charlotte takes the role of the industrial revolution, pushing for the farm to upgrade with new machinery and taking on position of Farm Manager herself- something the men who work there seem less than happy to hear. Nathan stands faithfully by her side- until mysterious and supernatural events begin to take a toll on their relationship. Meanwhile, the villagers seem unhappy at the changes- none want the proposed railway through the area, and none are happy with the new machines introduced to the farmyard.
Whilst Charlotte passionately pushes for change, the villagers fall victim to the past, with vengeful ghosts trying to turn the villagers against each other. We watch as everything from an angry, vengeful old man to a storm of blood-thirsty, vicious soldiers on horseback descend upon the village, the madness of each villain seeming to take a step up as Nathan’s mental stability steps down.
The show is all about the line between those who are dead and those who are alive blurring. So of course, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of sadness and some dark moments on the show. But some parts were especially hard to watch. Children dying has always been something I struggle to watch without getting emotional, and this show deals quite a lot with grieving parents. Nathan’s slow unraveling as the show develops is especially heart-breaking to watch- Colin’s incredible acting talent is put in the spotlight with a huge range of emotions being shown by the actor. We begin in episode one seeing him at a high point in life; completely in love with the excitable, strong Charlotte and looking forwards to his future with her. As he becomes further and further entrenched with the mysterious events happening in the village, his character’s struggle between staying alive in the present and falling back into the past has him acting more and more erratically, having periods of managing to pull himself back to his wife amongst his growing suicidal idealizations.
And the other actors are extraordinary as well; Charlotte Spencer, who plays Charlotte Appleby, is a beacon of hope in the show- a constant barrage of optimism, resourcefulness, and courage, she is a pleasure to see on the screen. Her interactions with Morgan sparkle with sincerity and keep the couple the staple of the show; throughout all the horror and drama, what kept me watching was, most of all, wanting to see the two of them make it through together. Did they? You’ll have to watch to find out!
Overall, the show is a suspenseful, at times confusing and shocking demonstration of what talent TV show producers, writers, and actors possess. With some upsetting scenes that I had to blink away tears at, the show will touch those who watch it and leave an impact on them- and not just that they’ll have to sleep with the lights on.
Written by Annie Knox