The Devil’s Whore

devilswhore460To a certain extent I’m reserving judgment on The Devil’s Whore(Channel 4), because I think the plot is going to take some serious turns next week. But, so far, it’s better than I expected. It’s history-lite, sexed-up for the public – of course – but if that makes it more appealing, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a period in history rarely touched by TV – and not that much by novelists either – so it’s good to see something different (ie not involving Henry VIII or Elizabeth I). It is a particularly interesting period of history; however, The Devil’s Whore doesn’t do that justice, since a lot of the actual war is skipped over – the first episode goes from pre-war to just before Charles I’s arrest, making little of the nature of regicide, the debates of political and religious freedom, and the horrors of civil war. This is because of the focus on the fictional Angelica Fanshawe, she who has an understanding with the devil, apparently. Andrea Riseborough is very good – she has a perfectly 17th-century appearance that I wouldn’t have expected from her previous performances.
In her slightly crazed Angelica, she’s convincing and at times almost mesmerising (I’m still bemused by Satan in a tree, though). To a certain extent she is the usual cipher for the usual emphasis on how repressed women have always been (yawn). Charles I (Peter Capaldi) is also good – arrogant, filled with the divine right of kings, he’s a less stereotypical Charles than one might expect. My main argument with the series so far is that history seems to have become a backdrop to one woman’s possible sexual intrigues. Many of the characters are genuine historical figures, from the obvious (Cromwell, Charles I) to John Lilburne, or “Freeborn John”, and Rainsborough. But if you didn’t happen to study this period of history for A-level, as I did, it can be difficult to disentangle fact from fiction (and even I have been checking my facts in Robert Ashton’s Reformation and Revolution, which I thoroughly recommend if you’re confused too!)
Since this revolutionary – in all senses of the word – period in history is often overlooked, I think the drama of The Devil’s Whore may be just the thing to pique people’s interest. I certainly hope so, and I hope we get to see more revolutionary politics rather than more corsets in the next episode. This certainly makes a dramatic change from the usual “period dramas”.
Advertisements

One thought on “The Devil’s Whore

  1. I quite enjoyed it even though it wasn’t 100% historically accurate. Hopefully it also had some educational value for those that aren’t aware of that part of history.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s