For those of you suffering from severe Tom Hardy withdrawal symptoms, fear not, he’s back on our screens in BBC’s Taboo, a show which he not only stars in, but also helped to write and produce. (Note for Peaky Blinders fans: producers have confirmed a fourth season with him in too.) Taboo is the new dark and seductive Saturday night drama. An alternative to Sherlock, for those wanting to sink their teeth into a quality show that you can’t predict and keeps you hooked for the whole hour.
Set in early 19th century London, Taboo follows the story of James Keziah Delaney (Hardy). Delaney returns to London from Africa following his father’s death, to claim his inheritance, much to the chagrin of the infamous East India Trading Company (for those who are fans of Pirates of the Caribbean, think Tom Hollander in Dead Man’s Chest).
Delaney’s inheritance turns out to include a small piece of land in the Americas which the Crown, the EITC and the Americans want control and the trading rights to. Hence, a power struggle begins between all four parties, while Delaney battles demons of his own.
One of these problems is his uncontrollable desire for his sister (Oona Chaplin - Game of Thrones, anyone?). This is something which seems to have once been reciprocated, but is now a source of shame and anger to her and her jealous new husband. Another personal struggle comes in the form of his apparent PTSD surrounding the shipwreck of a slaver ship belonging to the EITC, but no more spoilers.
Delaney does not fit well into society, with his tattoos, tendency to violence and savage removal of those who are a threat to himself or his plans. Taboo is not for those of a nervous disposition, as early on we see a would-be assassin ruthlessly killed by Delaney, who slumps to the floor after ripping out the man’s throat with his own teeth.
The interesting back story to the show, including the circumstances in which Delaney’s father ‘acquired’ his mother, along with the revelation that since the incident, Delaney has been AWOL in Africa, lends to the intense feel of the show. It is a grim image of 1814 London, and Delaney’s involvement in acts of physical and shadowy magic adds another dimension to this harsh period drama.
Hardy is joined by actors Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones, Pirates of the Caribbean) as the head of the EITC and Tom Hollander (The Night Manager) as the intelligent and sarcastic chemist employed by Delaney to help start his trading in gunpowder.