The Devil’s Whore (4 stars)

Channel 4, Wed 19 Nov, 9pm

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The Devil’s Whore

DRAMA

Having coped admirably with the distasteful task of bringing the early political career of Margaret Thatcher to fruition during The Long Walk to Finchley, Andrea Riseborough steps into the shoes of another headstrong historical female. Born into the viciously divided England of the 1620s, Angelica Fanshawe was abandoned by her lunatically religious mother, leading the young girl to renounce her faith and be visited upon by images of Satan dancing from trees while unfurling the longest tongue surely ever seen on TV.

Clearly surviving this trauma well, we next see her as a flouncy aristo in the court of Charles I (Peter Capaldi) where she is set to marry her cousin Harry. But trouble is brewing with rebellion and revolution in the air as Oliver Cromwell (Dominic West), civil rights campaigner John Lilburne (Tom Goodman-Hill) and soldier for hire Edward Sexby (John Simm) all ease their way into Angelica’s consciousness and stir her own anti-authority sentiments. As with the opening shots of John Adams with its horrific portrayal of a man being tarred and feathered, The Devil’s Whore is not backwards in coming forwards to show the brutal behaviour of its age. But with the compelling squashing of history into its 75 minute-long episodes, it doesn’t take much for the series to fasten its watchable grip. This is in part thanks to the subtle performances and elegant script but most of all for its stark direction by Marc Munden (The Mark of Cain) with the raising of the dead on the battlefield and the haunting Luciferian images truly a sight to behold.

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