Monday, September 2, 2002

Sparkhouse was situated in Hebden Bridge - one of the main characters gave it as his address. And we were able to see familiar sites including Stubbings School, St George's Square, Pecket Well and synthetic snow. First reviews are mixed - the Guardian is generally critical while The Times is favourable.


Saturday, August 31, 2002

Showing Sunday evenings, 1st and 8th September

A new drama inspired by Wuthering Heights

'Oh God, it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!'
Wuthering Heights

Carol Bolton is feisty, passionate and reckless. Life has dealt her a raw deal.

She lives in poverty-stricken Sparkhouse Farm with a drunken father, Richard, but she is determined to protect those closest to her - younger sister Lisa and her soul mate since childhood, Andrew Lawton.

Andrew and Carol's love is not a teenage crush. Their passion is urgent, powerful, enormous, like the landscape they share; the raw energy of the wind, the awesome loneliness of the moors.

Yet all of this is in danger of being destroyed when a Pandora's Box of secrets and lies is forced open.

"The themes are perennial," says Sparkhouse producer Derek Wax.

"The battle between passionate love and economic necessity; following your heart, or doing something expedient, or socially desirable.

"These questions are the same in the 21st century as they were in the 19th," he argues.

"This is a story that's been inspired by Wuthering Heights, but the plot isn't the same - what you do have is two characters who are completely in love and you get a sense of how intoxicating that can be."

Executive producer Nicola Shindler explains: "This is a fantastic, epic love story about two people who come from contrasting classes and cultures.

"Sally Wainwright came to us and said this was an idea she had always really, really wanted to write. Although it was inspired by Wuthering Heights, the parallels are not exact in any way.

"It is very much set in the Yorkshire Moors that she knows well. It's a good strong story and Sally's writing is original."

Gareth Neame, the BBC's Head of Independent Commissioning, says: "We were delighted when Red Productions and Sally Wainwright came to us with this idea.

"It's a tremendous tale: modern, engaging, romantic, tragic and - in the end - uplifting. We hope that this is just the beginning of a long relationship between Sally and the BBC."

Sally explains: "Carol is a character I've had in my head for a long time. The rest of the story evolves around her, using Wuthering Heights as inspiration."

Because Sally also wrote At Home With The Braithwaites, she had always had Sarah Smart - who plays Virginia in the series - in mind for the central character of Carol.

"She inhabits the role of Carol totally," says Derek warmly. "The best acting happens in her eyes, without any sense that she is 'acting'.

"Carol has nothing of value in her life apart from her sister and her love for Andrew. She has no social or domestic status, yet she's brave, funny and strong.

She's a real fighter and - when the chips are down - she'll fight for what she wants and the one, fantastic thing in her life is her love for Andrew. What she does is rooted in real passion."

The object of Carol's passion required a young actor with the power to grab the viewers' empathy, and the search ended with Joe McFadden.

"For Andrew we needed someone who had to be strong, sexy and interesting enough to engage a character as strong as Carol, but have sensitivity and understand the sensitivity of romance," explains Nicola.

Derek Wax agrees: "There was a big casting session for Andrew and Joe just knocked us out, he was fantastically truthful. He also had this youthful energy and immediacy to be able to play an 18-year-old."

Director Robin Sheppard says: "The first time I saw Joe and Sarah in a room together they were like two peas in a pod. There was chemistry, sparks between them and that's the most important thing to see on screen."