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The Devil’s Whore – Reviews and Behind-the-Scenes

England’s civil war in The Devil’s Whore
The Sunday Times
Stephen Armstrong
9 November 2008

Andrea Riseborough as Angelica in The Devil's Whore

Andrea Riseborough as Angelica in The Devil's Whore

The English civil war gets an overdue celebration in The Devil’s Whore, a thrilling new TV drama from Peter Flannery

There are moments when The Devil’s Whore, coming soon on Channel 4, seems almost too rich and exotic to be a British drama. Hollywood’s accepted agenda for heroes — whether fighting aliens in Independence Day, Persians in 300, slave-owners in Amistad or the British in pretty much anything starring Mel Gibson — is the struggle for liberty and justice. Our homegrown screen champions, conversely, usually shuffle awkwardly through deeds performed for money, deception, loyalty or petty compromise. So it’s strange to hear epic speeches against tyranny delivered, without irony, by English lips.

“My liberty is his to take — but not to give,” a Leveller cries. “I am freeborn John Lilburne. We will not live like slaves. Nor will we loll in our beds while he bring in an Irish army or a Scotch army to kill us.” Later, Oliver Cromwell pleads for Lilburne in Parliament thus: “Then where is the justice for John Lilburne that rots still in the Fleet by a sentence most illegal, against the liberty of the subject, bloody, wicked, barbarous and tyrannical?”

If the language weren’t ambitious enough, there is the vast scope of Peter Flannery’s script — which some might argue resembles a vastly heightened period version of his previous big hit, Our Friends in the North. To remodel that drama’s catch line, this is a saga of two decades, five friends and their lives that shaped the world. The Devil’s Whore recounts the stories of comrades, enemies and lovers who battle, with varying degrees of idealism and brutality, through the civil war, from the closing days of the Eleven Years’ Tyranny to the post-war manoeuvring between parliament’s factions as the army, the radicals and the conservatives wrestle for the nation. more

 

The Devil’s Whore
Newsnight Review
John Wilson
7 November 2008

Novelists Ian Rankin and Julie Myerson, along with Broadcaster and Journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, join host John Wilson to review ‘The Devil’s Whore’.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

TX:  The Devil’s Whore
Broadcast
Matthew Bell
5 November 2008

Forget bonnets and ballrooms, Peter Flannery’s Civil War drama is a highly political piece about a turning point in British history.

It has taken 14 long years for The Devil’s Whore – Peter Flannery and Martine Brant’s drama set amid the turbulence and slaughter of the English Civil War – to reach the screen. That’s the Peter Flannery who wrote Our Friends in the North, the story of four friends from Newcastle, which, along the way, told viewers all they needed to know about British politics from the early 1960s to the mid-1990s.

Audiences and critics loved it and the BBC2 serial was garlanded with awards, including two Baftas and two Royal Television Society awards. Yet, aside from occasional episodes of detective series George Gently, Poirot and Rose and Maloney, Flannery has had nothing on TV since Our Friends in the North in 1996.

A long time in the making

The story of The Devil’s Whore, which kicks off on Channel 4 on 19 November, began in autumn 1994 when Flannery took a call from Tessa Ross, who was then working in independent commissioning at the BBC. She asked him to take look at an idea for a drama from Brant, a historian specialising in 17th-century England.

“We were starting to film Our Friends in the North at the time. I loved the idea, we set up a meeting and I met Martine. From that point onwards, I just couldn’t say no. It seems very funny in retrospect but I told [the BBC]: ‘You might have to wait six months’. Fourteen years later…” says Flannery, leaving his sentence hanging.

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