Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *
Cast: Tom Hardy, David Hayman, Jonathan Pryce, Oona Chaplin, Jessie Buckley, Stephen Graham, Richard Dixon, Leo Bill, Edward Hogg, Ruby May-Martinwood, Franka Potente, James Greaves, Michael Kelly, Jefferson Hall, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Jason Watkins, Scroobius Pip, Nicholas Woodeson, Tom Hollander, Mark Gatiss, Christopher Fairbank, Lucian Msamati, Fiona Skinner, Marina Hands, Edward Fox.
The 19th Century is forever being portrayed as either a time of conquest, of war or of genteel society, the precursor of the so called golden Victorian age, the time in which Britain rose to extreme prominence and at a cost to her immortal soul. A time in which it could be argued the nation was as savage as those we tried to paint in the same picture, that her wealth was built on the foundations of others misery and this could be seen perhaps in the alleged unethical business stance of the East India Company.
It is in this period that the hugely powerful series Taboo leaves its impressive mark on the television schedule and one in which, if it ever needed confirming, that Tom Hardy should be regarded as one of Britain’s leading actors of today. The star of Legend, The Revenant, Mad Max and Bronson is in absolute mayhem mode as the unhinged but dogmatic James Keziah Delaney, a role in which all those other parts have led him too, all those incredible studies in character and the demons that drove them, have become flesh in the man of two different worlds, James Keziah Delaney.
The early 19th Century was not only a time of conquest and high society dinners, although looking back at some of the television series over the years it would be hard pressed to believe otherwise; it was dirt, mud, the pain of existence in many quarters and much like today, people with certain troughs were always finding ways to eat from others place of dining, as well as their own.
In a series that will surely go down as a particular highlight of the decade in television terms, Taboo revels in the mud, it is unthinkable to believe so but it one in which the so called undesirable life is actually the more honest, the more sincere and whilst the man driven half mad through his actions is to be feared, he is perhaps also the most acceptable of men.
Tom Hardy, Jonathan Pryce, Oona Chaplin, Edward Hogg and Jessie Buckley bring this story penned by Steven Knight and Edward Hardy to life, the sense of outlaw, the volatile and the unpredictable all leaving a stain on the viewers’ conscious and one in which they would surely be thankful for having experienced.
It is not forbidden to remember that history is not just about the pink shades on an old atlas, it is also about the people who were more than happy, even at cost or great gain, who were happy to destroy an Empire.
Ian D. Hall