The Long Song is set during the slaves’ Christmas rebellion of 1831, and while I’m not usually one for period dramas, if they can somehow make it engaging, then they still do have a chance.
The story centres around headstrong slave July (Tamara Lawrance), as she’s putting arrogant mistress Caroline (Hayley Atwell) into her tight dress, and Caroline also shows what a hateful woman she is by dubbing July with the name Margarite, and insisting that should only be how she’s known, after she snatched July away from her mother.
What follows shows us how the treatment of slaves was disgusting, and to see Caroline refer to Lenny Henry as “boy” is a disgrace, since it’s both derogatory AND he’s a fully-grown man. Similarly, the drama also includes the language used at the time.
As I alighted to, it’s coming up to Christmas, and it’s difficult for July to watch as her fellow countrymen and women are whipped. Hence, before long, the slaves begin their rebellion by burning down the field in which they work.
The Long Song‘s first episode has a very slow first half, but things picked up in the second. However, it was still quite uneven. It’s only a three-parter, soI’ll definitely check the other two episodes out, as it has promise, and a great lead performance from Tamara Lawrance as July.
UPDATE: Episode 2: I thought it was really well done, the way July’s relationship with Robert, and in part, it was a welcome diversion away from Hayley Atwell’s stroppy Caroline, so I’ll certainly check out the finale and see where it goes. Both Ms Lawrance and Jack Lowden were superb in their roles.
Episode 3: Without giving spoilers, the finale was fine; Nothing out of the ordinary, but just fine. Again, Lawrance and Lowden were the best htings in this, and I wasn’t fussed about Atwell.
The Long Song continues tomorrow on BBC1 at 9pm, and then concludes on Thursday night at 9pm.
You can watch each episode on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after transmission.
Episode 1 Score: 5/10
Episode 2 Score: 7/10
Episode 3 Score: 6/10
Director: Mahalia Belo
Producer: Roopesh Parekh
Author: Andrea Levy
Adaptor: Sarah Williams
July: Tamara Lawrance
Caroline Mortimer: Hayley Atwell
Robert: Jack Lowden
John Howarth: Leo Bill
Old July: Dona Croll
Godfrey: Lenny Henry
Hannah: Jo Martin
Molly: Ayesha Antoine
Elias: Ethan Hazzard
Kitty: Sharon Duncan-Brewster
Tam Dewar: Gordon Brown
Dublin Hilton: Richard Pepple
Miss Rose: Joy Richardson
7-Year-Old July: Kara-Leah Fernandes
Nimrod: Jordan Bolger
George Sadler: David Verrey
Evelyn Sadler: Lizzie Hopley
Charles Wyndham: Harry Gostelow
Miss Clara: Madeleine Mantock
Byron: Luis Bryan Mesa
Militia Man 1: Christian Alvarez
Patience: Marie Michelle Brazile
Minister’s Wife: Elizabeth Turra
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.