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Jekyll is a Britishmarker television drama miniseries produced by Hartswood Films and Stagescreen Productions for BBC One. The series also received funding from BBC America. Steven Moffat wrote all six episodes, with Douglas Mackinnon and Matt Lipsey each directing three episodes.

The series is described by its creators as a sequel to the novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, rather than an adaptation of it, and the Robert Louis Stevenson tale is used within the series as a back story. It stars James Nesbitt as Tom Jackman, a modern-day descendant of Dr. Jekyll, who has recently begun transforming into a version of Mr. Hyde (also played by Nesbitt). Jackman is aided by psychologist Katherine Reimer, played by Michelle Ryan. Gina Bellman also appears as Claire, Tom's wife.

Filming took place at various locations around southern England in late 2006. The series was first transmitted on BBC One in June and July 2007, receiving mainly good reviews. A DVD of the series was released, featuring scenes cut from the broadcast versions.

Plot

Doctor Tom Jackman is a married father of two. A psychologist named Katherine Reimer takes a job caring for him. Abandoned by his mother as a child, Jackman has split from his wife, Claire. In the first episode, Jackman straps himself into a chair and Reimer watches as he undergoes a subtle physical transformation. While Hyde and Jackman are physically nearly identical, a running element of the series is the way in which others perceive them as distinct to the point of asking one where the other has gone.

Reimer observes that Jackman's alter ego exhibits rage, heightened senses, and a more playful and flirtatious manner and assures this persona that she will keep his secrets just as she keeps Jackman's but asks for guarantees that he will not harm her. After being informed of the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Hyde takes the titular alter ego's name for his own and the two agree to respect the other's autonomy.

Traveling to visit his family who he has kept secret from Hyde, Jackman transforms. To Jackman's family he becomes 'Uncle Billy', Jackman's long-lost cousin. To punish Hyde for transgressing on "his" territory, Jackman locks him in a restraint chair, but Hyde escapes and terrorizes Reimer, accusing her of lying to him. This begins the escalation of conflict between Jackman and Hyde with both leaving notes for the other before transforming.

Miranda Callendar, a detective employed by Claire learns about Hyde and informs Jackman that Jekyll and Hyde was not fiction, but a fictionalized version of actual events. There was a Doctor Jekyll who lived in London. When he is shown a picture of Jekyll, Jackman learns that he looks exactly like him. He assumes he is a descendant of Jekyll's, but Callendar informs him that Jekyll died without children.

Jackman's friend Peter Syme, who is his boss at the biotech firm of Klein and Utterson and an American named Benjamin are revealed to belong to a group which has been tracking Jackman/Hyde. He meets a woman who claims to be his mother and has been working with Reimer, but learns no more from her before she leaves. Jackman heads to Syme's house to learn the truth. Syme attempts to drug him, informing him that Benjamin and other personnel from Klein and Utterson are on their way. Feeling Hyde taking over, Jackman locks himself and Syme in the house's basement, not realizing that Claire has been in the house and is also hiding in the basement. After toying with Syme and Claire, Hyde is confronted by the men from Klein and Utterson. Hyde is captured, but first kills Benjamin. Claire argues that they need to find a cure for him. Syme informs her that they have a cure and Claire watches as her husband is locked in a metal coffin.

Reimer and Callendar confront Syme, claiming they know the truth about Jackman. Callendar claims that Klein and Utterson have access to cloning technology and that Jackman is Jekyll's clone. Syme denies this and orders them taken away. He reveals to Claire that the "cure" her husband is undergoing will not purge the Hyde persona, but Jackman. Klein and Utterson want to examine Hyde in order to synthesize the potion that turned the original Jekyll into Hyde. When the box is opened Hyde is dominant. In a flashback triggered by genetic memory, Hyde sees a meeting between Jekyll and Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson reveals that he knows, "there is no potion." Jekyll lied to trap anyone who might try to create another Hyde. Jackman also learns that there was a maid in Jekyll's household whom he was in love with and looks like Claire. It was the love for this woman that released Hyde. Klein and Utterson cloned the maid to provoke a similar change in Jackman.

Enraged by further attempts to harm their family, Jackman and Hyde escape from Klein and Utterson. Klein and Utterson take Claire prisoner and trap Jackman's sons. Hyde manifests, exhibiting greater superhuman abilities (including a limited ability to control electricity) and cuts his way through the Klein and Utterson personnel. Eventually Hyde appears to sacrifice himself to save Jackman's family, having come to the conclusion that Hyde represents unbridled love.

Sometime later Jackman, apparently free of Hyde, has once again separated from his family for their safety. With the help of Callendar he tracks down his mother. Confronting her he asks about his origins, asserting that she must be descended from Jekyll. She is not the descendant of Jekyll, but of Edward Hyde whose rampant sexual appetites left him with several offspring. The final shot of the series is of Jackman's mother transforming into her own Hyde persona, that of Mrs Utterson.

Production

Development

Jeffrey Tayor of Stagescreen Productions had the idea of a modern version of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in the mid-1990s. He attempted to get it produced in America three times, but all three attempts fell through for various reasons. He returned to England from the West Coast of the United States and joined with Hartswood Films when Elaine Cameron was scouting for ideas for a supernatural thriller. Cameron then approached Steven Moffat for a script, and a six-part series was commissioned by the BBC's Jane Tranter and John Yorke in November 2005.BBC America signed on to provide co-production funding in March 2006. The producers regularly met with Moffat for brainstorming sessions. Cameron's assistant took notes from these conversations, after which they would look over the notes and start the process again. The producers invited Moffat to "write anything", with the intention of cutting the material back later. However, they were relectant to cut material one thet saw it on the page. The first episode starts with Jackman already knowing about his alter ego. Nesbitt says that it is like a "series zero" has gone before.

Moffat explicitly describes the series as a sequel, rather than an adaptation, stating that the Jekyll of the original story really existed, and Jackman is his "modern-day descendant dealing with the same problems". As Jekyll and Hyde is such a well known phrase, Moffat took a while to decide what to call the series. He decided upon Jekyll because that word "carries the name Hyde". The final episode replaces the title "Jekyll" with "Hyde". Producer Elaine Cameron says that the one word title gives the series a "very modern feel". Moffat initially named the character Jekyll rather than Jackman, but found the process of having to explain that the book had not been written in this alternate universe cumbersome. Instead he chose a version where the book exists, but changed the name to Jackman so otherwise the character would appear stupid by not realising what was happening when turning into Hyde.

The scene between Tom and Katherine was expanded slightly in the sixth episode to keep their relationship active to facilitate a second series. However, no further episodes were commissioned and the BBC's official website says that the "drama has now finished". In an August 2007 interview with the New Jersey Ledger, Moffatt told Alan Sepiwall that he had a sequel written for the miniseries "should the BBC be interested".

Casting

James Nesbitt and his agent attended a meeting with Jane Tranter in late 2005 regarding the 2006 series of Murphy's Law. At the conclusion of the meeting, she offered him a script for Jekyll, suggesting that he might like the role. Nesbitt took the script role as a way of putting a distance between his previous work. He was announced as Tom Jackman and Hyde on 12 December 2005, but filming was not scheduled to begin until September 2006, increasing his anticipation. Writer Steven Moffat says that the dual-role required a very skilled actor. They also needed a well-known actor as it was such an expensive show to produce. The production team decided that Nesbitt's two characters would be mainly differentiated over a change in performance rather than by extensive make-up because they wanted Hyde to be able to walk around in public without attracting attention.

Michelle Ryan, known for her long-running role in EastEnders, was revealed by tabloid newspaper The Sun to have been cast as "Jekyll's sultry assistant" (Katherine Reimer) in August 2006. Ryan believed herself to be too young for the part, though that aspect had already been written into the character. To prepare, she consulted the Royal College of Psychiatry. The same report named Holby City actor Denis Lawson as having been cast. Lawson consulted his post-graduate son for information on Syme's job. Ryan dyed her hair red for the role to help differentiate her from Tom Jackman's wife.

Gina Bellman was cast as Claire Jackman. However, writer Moffat initially doubted her suitability for the role because he associated Bellman too much as 'Jane', the character she had played in his sitcom Coupling. Moffat did not imagine the character to be as "beautiful" as Bellman, but her audition was so good that he had to revise his vision of the character. Bellman originally auditioned for the role of Katherine, but the producers wanted someone younger to play that role. However, Bellman says that she talked herself out of the role by arguing that there should be an age gap between Katherine and Claire to avoid Katherine becoming a threat to the wife. Bellman approached her role as if Claire had become caught up in Tom's mid-life crisis, an angle that impressed the producers.

Meera Syal was attracted to her role because Miranda was not a clich├ęd private detective and she thought the humour was "fresh". During the second filming block, Mark Gatiss briefly joined the cast, playing the small but important role of Robert Louis Stevenson in flashback scenes in episode five.

Other significant roles were Denis Lawson as Peter Syme, Paterson Joseph as Benjamin Maddox, and Linda Marlowe as Ms Utterson.

Production

The series was filmed in two blocks of three episodes. The first three were directed by Douglas Mackinnon and the second by Matt Lipsey. Nesbitt spent an hour each day being made up as Hyde; a hairpiece lowered his hairline and prosthetics were added to his chin, nose and ear lobes. He also wore black contact lenses to make Hyde "soulless". After many debates, the producers decided that Hyde's imminent arrival would be indicated by the flash of a black eye. The eye imagery evolved during filming, and did not appear in the script. The transformation itself was never shown on-camera in any of the six episodes.

Filming began in September 2006 with the zoo sequence in the second episode. Writing the sequence at a late stage in the production, Moffat wanted to compare Hyde's natural instinct to kill to a lion's. This was shot on location at Heythrop Zoo, a private zoo in Chipping Nortonmarker run by Jim Clubb, whose firm Amazing Animals specialises in training animals for cinema and television. The Norman Foster-designed building in Chertseymarker, Surreymarker, which then housed the European Headquarters of video game designer and publisher Electronic Arts, was used as The Klein & Utterson Institute. A large country estate near Henley-on-Thamesmarker and in Bognor Regismarker was used for some of the scenes whilst on the run and in flashbacks. A disused Boys' school in Gloucestershiremarker, and the Hammer House in Wardour Streetmarker, Sohomarker were used in episode six. Filming concluded on 20 December 2006.

The schedule was tight for a complex production. The production team had twelve days to shoot each episode, which director Douglas Mackinnon says was the biggest challenge of the project. The required amount of material was shot for most of the episodes. However, an extra twenty minutes of extra material was filmed for episode six. Director Matt Lipsey recalls that the team struggled to cut the extra material whilst maintaining the integrity of the episode. Lipsey credits Moffat for not "being precious" over his material during the editing process, but points out that his willingness to cut superfluous material means that he is taken seriously when he argues fore something to be retained.

The music was composed by Debbie Wiseman. The orchestra featured approximately 17-18 pieces. Some cues featured the vocals of Hayley Westenra to foreshadow the importance of a female voice.

Episodes



# Title Director(s) Writer(s) Viewers / Share Original Airdate


Broadcast and reception

Jekyll was broadcast on BBC One on Saturday nights from 9 p.m. A two-week break occurred between showings of the third and fourth episodes because the Live Earth benefit concert was broadcast during its timeslot on 7 July. The series began airing on BBC America from 4 August, as part of a "Supernatural Saturday" programming strand. In Australia Jekyll began broadcasting on ABC1, Sundays at 8.30 p.m. from 2 March 2008 with a double episode back-to-back each week. In Canadamarker, Jekyll began broadcasting on Showcase, beginning at the end of August 2007 and on BBC Canada, Wednesdays at 10:00 PM from 26 March 2008. Also in Hong Kongmarker, Wednesday at 11:55 PM from 11 February 2009 on TVB Pearl. In the Netherlandsmarker, "Jekyll" was broadcast in the summer of 2009 on 13th Street, a subscription-only cable channel.

Certain edits were made to the United Kingdom broadcasts in order to remove language unsuitable for Saturday night BBC One audiences; for example, a line spoken by Hyde in episode one was changed from "Who the fuck is Mr Hyde?" to "Who the hell is Mr Hyde?"

James Jackson of The Times rated the first episode four out of five stars, calling Nesbitt's performance as Hyde "as entertainingly OTT as a dozen Doctor Who villains, with a palpable sense of menace to boot". The conspiracy plot is praised as a storyline that distinguishes this series from other adaptations. The Daily Telegraph's Stephen Pile criticised the script for "veering between Hammer horror and larky humour" and for being "cheesy". He also criticised Hyde's gravity-defying hijinks and mistook Michelle Ryan for a model. In the same newspaper, James Walton called the first episode a combination of "a good yarn with several nicely thoughtful touches". David Cornelius of DVDTalk was full of compliments for the series, summing up its review with the statement "six episodes, 300 minutes, not a single one of them wasted. "Jekyll" is this year's finest television event".The Australian Broadcasting Corporationmarker, commenting on the series being part of their 2008 line-up, said "This classic horror tale has been given a modern make-over that will leave you on the edge of your seat and begging for more. James Nesbitt is outstanding as the new Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". Nesbitt was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his roles. Paterson Joseph received a mention in the nominations for the 2008 Screen Nation awards.

Home release

The BBFC rated all episodes as a 15 certificate on 11 June 2007. Jekyll: Season One was released for region 2 on 30 July 2007 by Contender Home Entertainment. It includes uncut episodes, including restoration of some swearing cut from the BBC broadcasts. As DVD Verdict says about this uncut version, "the language is saucier, the violence a bit more bloody, and the sex more primal." The disc contains audio commentaries on two episodes: producer Elaine Cameron, writer Steven Moffat and first-block director Douglas Mackinnon commentate one episode one, while executive producer Beryl Vertue, second-block director Matt Lipsey and actress Gina Bellman comment upon the sixth episode. The set also contains two documentaries: "Anatomy of a Scene" focuses upon the production of the zoo sequence in episode two, while "The Tale Retold" covers the evolution of the series. The first Region 1 release occurred in the United States on September 18 2007, although the Region 1 Canadian release was delayed until October 9, following the Canadian broadcast of the series on Showcase, which commenced at the end of August 2007.

References

  1. "Jekyll: The Tale Retold", featurette on Jekyll DVD, Contender Home Entertainment
  2. "Anatomy of a Scene", Jekyll DVD, Contender Home Entertainment
  3. British Board of Film Classification (2007-06-11). Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 6. Retrieved on 2007-07-28.


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