In Review

Taboo: What to expect from Tom Hardy's new lavish period drama

Adventure, death and betrayal are the key ingredients in this highly anticipated eight-part series

Tom Hardy has barely had a moment off our screens in the past two years. From Mad Max: Fury Road to The Revenant, the Londoner is one of the industry's most in-demand actors, bringing pathos and sensitivity to gritty, macho roles.

Now Hardy is about to return to the UK small screen in new mini-series Taboo. The brainchild of Hardy and his wonderfully named father, Chips – plus Peaky Blinders screenwriter Stephen Knight – it is a macabre tale of vengeance and conspiracy set in 1813.

So what can we expect from Taboo and what do we know so far?

What's it about?

According to The Independent, the series will focus on James Delaney, "an adventurer who uncovers a dark family conspiracy upon returning home from Africa with the aim of avenging his father's death".

Stolen diamonds, the East India Company and the American Revolutionary War are expected to be major factors in the plot, although the finer details are still under wraps. 

Who is involved?

Aside from Hardy, the series brings a wealth of British talent, with a cast including Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones), David Hayman (Trial & Retribution) and Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean). US actor Michael Kelly (House of Cards) will also appear.

Taboo has also recruited renowned international directors, with Danish director Kristoffer Nyholm (The Killing) and Swede Anders Engstrom (Jordskott) taking control of four episodes each. Gladiator director Ridley Scott is executive producer.

How historically accurate will it be?

Knight has raised the eyebrows of a few historians in the run-up to the show's launch with his comments on the East India Company, which, he said, "throughout the 19th century, was the equivalent of the CIA, the NSA and the biggest, baddest multinational corporation on earth, all rolled into one self-righteous, religiously-motivated monolith".

Historians have expressed concern that Taboo will portray the firm in an overwhelmingly negative light, says the Daily Telegraph, and believe this is unfair revisionism. Economic historian Tirthankar Roy said the East India Company "made a very positive contribution overall" and that its "major beneficiaries were the huge number of Indian, Chinese, south east Asian traders".

When is it on?

Taboo will air on BBC1 on 7 January 2017.

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