Period dramas are notoriously the bedrock of Britain’s cultural identity and have slowly become the staple of the Sunday night schedules. Yet in 2017, the BBC have recruited Hollywood A-lister Tom Hardy to head-up the explosive Taboo, new to Saturday nights on BBC1. Taboo tells the story of James Delaney (Hardy) who returns to his hometown following the death of his estranged father. Here, he quickly learns that his father’s will is the subject of contention amongst villagers and through merely having one daughter and a consistently absent son, the town assume that they are indeed the benefactors. Yet with the return of Delaney, things are about to be stirred up.
Far removed from the escapist nature of saturday night family viewing such as Robin Hood or Merlin, as you can imagine by its casting credentials, Taboo remains a hard-hitting and gritty piece of television drama. Despite complaints in the press regarding the sound quality in amongst Tom Hardy’s dialogue, I found the story easy to follow and the interior landscape within each scene kept me invested in the episode. For a moment I forgot I was watching a BBC drama, it seems more like a Hollywood movie with it’s extensive filmography, over-dramatic pace and punchy dialogue which lures you into a false sense of security, only to realise 50 minutes later that it’s the end of the episode. I have never been an advocate for gorging on TV box sets but in this instance this may be one to make an exception for.
Tom Hardy is slowly becoming one of this country’s finest character actors and exhibits that rare ability to make the audience forget his previous roles as soon as he steps foot on screen. Immediately, you forget the association with Bronson, Bane or Ronnie and Reggie Kray as you believe him to be the living and breathing James Delaney. For me, a sign of a very good actor and still yet to reach forty, it’s exciting to see where Tom Hardy’s career will take him next.
The first episode premiered last Saturday and if you missed it you can still catch up on BBC iPlayer. In an age when television drama is slowly being challenged by online streaming services it’s good to know that the BBC remains invested in the art of bringing drama to the masses and Taboo is a great example of this.