The Living And The Dead


My family and I really enjoyed the recent BBC series The Living And The Dead. I’ve just about given up on television when I saw the trailers and immediately recognised a style and sensibility influenced by the classic ghost story adaptations of the 1970’s such as Whistle And I’ll Come To You, My Lad and The Signalman, as well (inevitably) The Wicker Man and Blood On Satan’s Claw. There’s been a fad for “old weird Britain” of late, so it was no surprise to me that television drama should try tapping into that, but the results could so easily have been total shit. Top marks then to all involved for such a fine piece of work, one suffused with so many striking images found throughout the Somerset countryside. The locations are as much a part of the story as the characters themselves – shadowy ruins ideal for haunting, sinister pools ideal for a drowning, blighted trees ideal for a hanging – and through it all the camera moved like a wraith, catching unsettling forms in the far distance, or zooming in on a terror-dilated eyeball. The scriptwriters also managed to surprise me with their ideas, so even I who had jadedly begun to feel that he’d seen it all was amused to see them take genuine chances while still conforming to the expectations for ‘arcs’ and ‘back continuity’ of the commissioning editors. The music employed throughout suited the tone perfectly, the colour palette was as rich as that of John Everett Millais, and the overall impression was one of buried folklore unearthed before it’s safe to do so. I hope the same creative team returns for a second series, as the final scene of the last episode strongly implied.

A Lyke Wake Dirge – Andrew Bird & Matt Berniger (The Living And The Dead theme)


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