A Spy Among Friends: ITVX releases trailer for original series
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The Confessions of Frannie Langton is on ITVX and it follows the title character (played by Karla-Simone Spence) after she is accused of murder. Frannie is a former slave who has been brought from Jamaica to London to serve a wealthy couple. She falls in love with her mistress and author Sara Collins opened up about her backstory.
Sara told Express.co.uk she was initially reluctant to adapt her novel for the small screen.
She compared TV adaptations to “killing a novel and walking around wearing its skin”.
However, she quickly realised the opportunity it would give her to speak out on black history from a female perspective.
Producer Carol Harding explained: “The fact is most stories are told from a slave point of view who are not educated.
“So Frannie herself being particularly educated and having her mind enslaved was really interesting.
“That was the prime interest for me from the book and seeing that carry through on screen in Sara’s script was really important.”
Sara explained: “I think a lot of people are probably being lulled into a false sense of security about black people in period dramas.
“I call it the Bridgerton effect, but Bridgerton is a fantasy.
“It’s a nice fantasy but what really interests me is making sure we don’t lose sight of the truth.
“So I described it before as me trying to put a Jamaican woman into Jane Austin territory.”
Opening up on her own story, she said: “This is something entirely different to Bridgerton or colourblind casting.
“This is colour-focused casting, I guess. This is an attempt to explore what it actually would have been like to be an educated black person trying to navigate these rooms where you are the most intelligent person in the room.
“But there’s simply no outlet for or acknowledgment of your intellect and I think sadly, and I really do mean sadly, that is subversive.
“Imagine this far into the 21st century the idea that enslaving people was more about physical abuse to their bodies.
“It’s still something that we just haven’t done enough of in fiction in this country.
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Sara said she was struggling to previously find a love story that took slavery as its backdrop.
She added: “[To find a love story that] imagined people who have been through the experience of enslavement would have felt love and yearning and sexual attraction and romantic attraction and would have desired all those things for themselves.
“The idea that that’s revolutionary, these things really do bother me… the idea that we are hundreds of years away from that but the only way we can imagine people who went through those experiences as victims.
“So I wrote the book to try and write against that idea and I think the series has picked up on that.”
In a separate interview, Sara said she had a “life-long irritation with the depiction of black characters in historical fiction”.
She said black characters were often portrayed as “nothing but victims of that institution”.
Frannie actress Karla-Simone said she had been intrigued by Frannie’s journey and her wit and resilience.
She said: “She can be the most intelligent person in the room but can’t always show it.
“They assume that Frannie would be subservient, having been a former slave. She is not. Only when it suits her to be.”
The Confessions of Frannie Langton airs on ITVX.
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