"I'm playing an upper-class twat, a real silly git," laughs Rupert Graves. "It's typecasting." Graves is appearing in the forthcoming film of Alan Ayckbourn's Revengers' Comedies.

That is certainly an image he has had to live with since languidly strolling into the public consciousness as Freddy Honeychurch in A Room with a View. "If I was called Wayne Graves, I'd never have got that part," he reckons. "There's a certain snobbery in British film- making." He's subsequently appeared in so many period dramas, he could almost have been sponsored by Laura Ashley.

The idea of an actor most at home in sideburns and stiff collars will not be dislodged by his latest role. He plays the aristocratic alcoholic, Arthur Huntington, violent husband of the long-suffering Helen (Tara Fitzgerald), in the BBC's new three-part adaptation of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

Dressed in a leather flying-jacket when we meet, Graves has the timeless good looks of a First World War fighter pilot. This has led him to be bracketed with Hugh Grant as what one newspaper called "thinking woman's crumpet on toast", but he is dismissive of the sex symbol tag. "What does that mean?" he asks. "I've seen so much rubbish written about me that there's no point in taking it seriously."

But there is much more to this thirty-something actor than an ability to look dashing in riding boots and tight breeches. He made a convincing job of David Martin - violent bank robber by day, sensuous transvestite by night - in ITV's Open Fire and is soon to be seen as a man falling for a transsexual in a contemporary BBC drama called Different for Girls.

Graves remains well aware of the dangers of white-linen-suit typecasting. "I always have that debate when I'm offered a period drama," he maintains. "I think, `Oh no, not another fey public school boy'. But deep down, I know I'm not like that. I went to a crappy comprehensive in Weston-Super-Mare."

He voices his wariness about cut-glass acting. "There can be too much linen and old leaves in English acting." But Graves contends that drama set in previous eras can still have a resonance across the centuries. "If they trade on whimsy, then the charge of irrelevance can be made," he observes. "But period dramas like The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are relevant if you choose to look for the human themes. The Tenant is quite primal; male weaknesses are fighting against female strengths. It makes for a good battle, which they take out on their child. That's a human story."

With its harrowing account of marital abuse, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a story that could have been ripped from today's headlines. James Purefoy, who plays Helen's landlord, asserts: "It's so modern. The problem of alcoholism and the home-breaking, and the violence that it causes, are as relevant today as they were then. The sort of abuse that Anne Bronte shocked everyone with was happening at the time and is still happening now."

It is all far-removed from the bonnets and bonhomie of Pride and Prejudice. "We wanted to make The Tenant of Wildfell Hall a compelling story about real people who happen to live in the 1840s," explains Suzan Harrison, the producer. "The characters don't hide behind period masks. There are no wigs, they wear very little make-up, and their clothes actually get dirty. I am very keen that people realise that this is not another Pride and Prejudice. It's a much bleaker, blacker, more real piece."

And Graves, for one, feels a lot more comfortable in a smudged linen suit.

`The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' starts on BBC1 at 8.30pm tomorrow night

The video, audio cassette and paperback are all released this month




Brass Eye (Tue C4) Switchboard- jamming mischief-making from Chris Morris, the frontman of "The Day Today".

The Works (Thur BBC2) Pays tribute to the heroic journalist, Vernica Guerin.

Women at Play (Thur C4) Girls in pearls have muddy fun in the Harlequins Ladies Rugby team.




New Baywatch (Sat ITV) Meet the "New Baywatch", same as the old.

Jim Davidson's Generation Game (Sat BBC1) Doesn't Jim Davidson make you yearn for Brucie?

Ruby Wax Meets the Duchess of York (Sun BBC1) Does the hapless Fergie really need any more exposure?



Horizon (Sun & Mon BBC2) Looking back over 10 years of BSE in Britain.

Vets' School (Mon BBC1) Student vet, Steve Leonard, drives to job interviews in a black-and-white "cow car".

Modern Times (Wed BBC2) "A Pleasant Land" examines the catastrophic effect on farmers of BSE.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas