22. July 2009 19:06
Last night the BBC launched a new six part drama series, Desperate Romantics. Set in and among the alleys, galleries and flesh-houses of 19th century industrial London, Desperate Romantics follows the life and love affairs of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of revolutionary artists as well-known for their intertwining love lives as for their ground-breaking paintings.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Millais declare their irreverent genius to the Victorian artistic establishment as frequently and as loudly as they can. Unfortunately for them, only one man seems to be listening. Fred Walters is a shy hanger-on who ingratiates himself with the Brotherhood by locating the “perfect model” – flame-haired Lizzie Siddal, a hat-shop assistant. Though none of them quite yet realise it, she is soon to be the most famous model in Britain.
The Royal Academy might turn up its collective nose, Charles Dickens may disapprove – but the influential critic John Ruskin, eventually comes on board. And suddenly the Pre-Raphaelites are hot. So what did you make of this light-hearted romp. You might say it is not accurate; but such is the contemporary feel of Bowker's script just be grateful Rossetti doesn't go home and Twitter.