Jamaica Inn, BBC1 - TV review: 'Jessica Brown Findlay and Matthew McNulty have an all-too-rare screen chemistry'


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The Independent Culture

There was lots to enjoy in Jamaica Inn, BBC1 new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's 1821-set novel about a young woman caught up in a smuggling ring. There's the windswept Cornish landscape (controversially filmed in Cumbria), lovely Jessica Brown Findlay as young Mary Yellan and the mystery of who exactly is giving landlord Joss Merlyn his orders from behind a closed door (my money's on Norman Bates's dead mother).

It did lose some momentum halfway, when the plot sunk into the marshy quick-sand and for what seemed like 20 minutes straight, nothing happened except for Mary clomping sulkily across the moors or glowering at her uncle Joss. Happily, the pace later recovered, thanks in part to Mary's lively flirtation with Jem Merlyn (Matthew McNulty). These two attractive actors have an all-too-rare screen chemistry that should sustain us through the rest of this mini-series.

Perhaps next week we'll also see a bit more of the excellent Shirley Henderson as the vicar's sister, Hannah Davey. That strange little creature is a prized addition to any Victorian period drama, but especially a gothic one.