Twists and turns: Jamaica Inn

Jamaica InnIT LOOKS like Jamaica Inn proved a difficult watch for some with 2182 complaints received at the BBC after the last instalment on Wednesday 23rd April. I have to say I watched all 3 episodes on BBC iPlayer and did find having the subtitles on helpful and it’s been seen that many viewers did the same.  But for many it was an issue that was too much of an annoyance and it carried through to the viewing figures. The last episode received 4.1 million viewers, a whole two million less than the first of the instalments.

I got over this issue fairly quickly and settled down and enjoyed three hours of intense moments and plot twists, but this isn’t the first time that the BBC have had a lot of complaints about sound issues in their dramas, as a few years ago complaints around the same topics were made against popular dramas such as Birdsong and Parade’s End. Whether it’s due to technical issues or the actors ‘mumbling’, if you are enjoying the show you will make the efforts to make the issue better, e.g. subtitles or turning the sound up.

Downton Abbey darling Jessica Findley Brown once again manages to show us that she is a versatile actress, and that her brave decision to leave the safety of Yorkshire and Downton has led to greater things. Her portrayal of Mary Yellan was outstanding, and you stay by Mary with every step and decision she makes. With her dress knee deep in mud, her hair left natural, and not a single dab of make-up she still manages to effortlessly portray a beautiful heroineeven though she goes through hell to then come out the other side to her happy(ish) ending.

In for a treat

And if you like your period dramas like me then you’re in for a treat with Jamaica Inn, a three-part adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel of the same name. The story portrays orphaned Mary Yellan making her way to her only living relatives after the death of her mother, her Aunt and Uncle at Jamaica Inn. However, Mary soon finds out that her Uncle Joss is the head of a group of smugglers who wreck ships, murdering the sailors and then getting the booty from the ship for themselves. Mary, who was told that her father was killed by smugglers, is horrified with her family’s involvement in it. Mary came from a safe, pleasant farm and a man (Ned) who asks for her hand in marriage numerous times; however, Mary’s mother always told her to marry a man she loves.

Once at Jamaica Inn, Mary soon learns that it is hard to know who to trust and to who is on the side of good or bad. There was not one character that my opinion did not change of; first impressions were not the right ones. But like many of Du Maurier’s heroines Mary is strong, she sticks with her gut instinct and follows it. However, as the viewer you see that sometimes your gut instinct might be wrong.

Screenwriter Emma Frost described the adaptation as, “A perfect fusion of Gothic romance and a young woman’s rite of passage in the vein of Twilight and Wuthering Heights.” She couldn’t be more right. The dangerous moors reminded me of those that Heathcliff and Cathy wandered, yet the romantic element was beautifully done keeping you hanging until the last thread as to what Mary’s final choice would be. People mistake du Maurier as a romantic novelist , and yet her view of romantic relationships is really rather bleak; Jem is hardly a Mr. Darcy stereotype, but he manages to charm his way through life and into the hearts of the viewer and of course to Mary.

A storyline of many twists and turns, Jamaica Inn is an enjoyable watch and I recommend it fully.