“There will be a lot of blood spilled in this series…”
Channel 4 may never be the same again… but of course I say this in a positive way! With the success of the first series of The Mill (and a TV BAFTA nomination for Kerrie Hayes), we are lucky to be treated to an extra two episodes of this piece of beautiful and historic drama in the second series – with brand new storylines, brand new characters and brand new rules thanks to the last episode of series one.
Sophie Gardiner, Commissioning Editor for Drama from Channel 4 happily says, “The Mill is that rare thing – a period drama that resonates with 21st century life. It’s a massive pleasure to bring it back. Series two is the next chapter in the life of Esther Price, our trouble-making mill girl drawn from the Quarry Bank archives.”
Earlier this month (July) I attended the screening and cast Q&A session, where it was clear a lot of hard work and risks were taken for this second series – with the history of Quarry Bank Mill being both fascinating and upsetting at the same time. Meeting the cast and crew was such an amazing experience! All of them were so down to earth, happy-go-lucky and was willing to answer any questions. Because of where the programme was filmed and what it is based on, the cast had a bit of a challenge. Holly Lucas (Susannah Bates) admitted that the hardest scene for her to film was a child-birth scene. She spent hours and hours watching YouTube videos of women giving birth, so it wasn’t pleasant at all. The amazing thing about The Mill is that it’s drawing in a younger audience around the country thanks to school History lessons. The cast and crew revealed the fact that the younger generation is learning and understanding how the workers suffered and how they lived, makes them feel incredible.
The first episode kicks off with everything looking bright and a bit easier for the girls who work in the Mill. But a new piece of drama begins at Quarry Bank Mill: Daniel and Lucy Bates struggle with bringing up three kids (one which doesn’t belong to Daniel but brought the child up as his own). However, she gives birth to the third child in this episode. William Greg (Andrew-Lee Potts) is the younger brother of Robert and has taken over the family business whilst Robert is running for parliament in Westminster. Both him and Daniel clash straight away due to Lucy and Daniel’s ‘child’. Hannah Greg ends up employing ex-slave Sope Dirisu to be the village’s gardener which stirs a few words when everyone else finds out. And the fact that he is the first black person to step foot into Quarry Bank Mill causes a bit more excitement upon the girls.
But for Esther Price (Hayes), the struggle is only just the beginning. With finishing the day’s work, she discovers her sister Martha (Vicky Binns) who begs Esther for a job, so she asks new boss William if her sister could be employed at the Mill. However, due to a new family from the south moving in and working (The Howletts / Whittakers) there is hardly anymore room to employ people. Much too her anger, Esther goes and snoops on this new family, but from this episode we can tell there’s going to be a little love story between her and the young new shoemaker, Will Whittaker.
From watching the first episode of the series, there is no spoilers that I’m allowed to say, other than it was just simply brilliant. Every single actor and actress in this series is so talented, and from the bottom of my heart I really hope there’s plenty of more series to come of The Mill. As much as I loved the characters, my hat goes off to Katherine Morley who plays the character of Lucy Garner. There is so much to be seen with Lucy and I have a feeling she can be a bit of a dark horse when she wants to be, or when she has no choice. Katherine portrays her amazingly in a surely to be award-winning performance.
The legend himself, John Fay who is the lead writer and also the co-creator and associate producer, is one of my biggest all time inspirations and the hard work he puts in for this is such a massive deal for Channel 4. After the screening he said something that hit the nail on the head, and this quote will always be with me for the rest of my life now. He calmly sits there looking relaxed and enjoying the Q&A time, when all of a sudden he turns around and says: “History is made by every single one of us. NOT just by the rich and powerful!”
To excite and worry us just a little bit, Andrew-Lee Potts also hinted that there will be a lot of blood spilled in this series…
The Mill starts on the 20th July on Channel 4 at 8.00pm.