The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a TV period drama is based on the novel of the same name by Jamaican born novelist Sara Collins. Here are excerpts from a review in The Voice-Online.
JAMAICAN-BORN, CAYMANIAN-BRITISH novelist and former lawyer Sara Collins says when she was offered the chance to adapt her novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton, for television, she knew “straightaway” that she didn’t want to write “yet another period drama where the only thing that happens to the black characters is slavery”.
Starring Karla-Simone Spence in the title role, The Confessions of Frannie Langton, set against the opulence of Georgian London, narrates Frannie’s journey from a Jamaican plantation to the grand Mayfair mansion of celebrated scientist George Benham and his wife, Madame Marguerite Benham. Frannie falls hopelessly in love with Marguerite after being brought to London and sent into service in her husband’s household. United in their longing to escape society’s limiting expectations, they slip into an intense emotional and sexual entanglement with each other.
Speaking on presenting the unusual narrative, Collins said: “My life-long irritation with the depiction of black characters in historical fiction as nothing but victims of that institution was the reason I’d written the novel in the first place.”
She added: “But I also wanted to avoid the sort of colour blind fantasy about interracial romance that seems to be in vogue nowadays – deliciously anachronistic, but occasionally guilty of indulging the audience’s self-serving reasons for pretending slavery never happened at all. Instead, I wanted to dramatise a passionate love affair between a black woman and her white mistress in Regency London. We’ve been led to assume this kind of thing would never have happened, which is precisely why it’s the story I wanted to tell.”
On what attracted her to The Confessions of Frannie Langton, Spence enthused: “It’s an incredible story. I was really intrigued by Frannie’s journey. She’s an incredibly witty, resilient woman. As soon as I read the scripts I was like, ‘I have to play her.’ I really wanted this role.”
Describing the journey, Spence added: “It’s a period drama, set in the 1800s. It’s Frannie’s story and she wants the world to know what she went through from her own account. “When Frannie arrives in England from Jamaica with John Langton, she is technically a free woman. She could run into this new world, but where would she go? Frannie is a survivor. She has made difficult decisions in order to survive. So in that moment she chooses to stick with the devil she knows. A choice that has led her to where we find her at the beginning of the show.” [. . .]
The Confessions of Frannie Langton premiered on new, free streaming service, ITVX.
[Shown above: Frannie Langton (Karla-Simone Spence) falls hopelessly in love with Madame Marguerite Benham (Sophie Cookson)]