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Viewers are transported to the grandeur of the Victorian era in BBC Entertainment’s The Paradise, where a rags-to-riches tale blossoms into a love story at Britain’s first department store. Emun Elliott, cast as John Moray, sheds more light on how his romantic plight clashes with his ambitious plans in the second season of the period drama, writes Debashine Thangevelo.
FIRST, they had us swooning over Downton Abbey, then it was Mr Selfridge and now BBC Entertainment are generating a fair amount of hype with The Paradise.
The series is set in Britain’s first department store, The Paradise.
Emun Elliott (Prometheus, Filth and Marillion in Game of Thrones), who plays the enigmatic and charming John Moray, gave a quick overview of where the storyline is at.
“At the end of series one, Moray was set to marry Katherine Glendenning, the wealthiest woman in the town. At the last minute, he decided he didn’t want to go through with it. He turned his back on the wedding, leaving Katherine standing at the altar, and ran towards Denise to proclaim his love for her. That’s how we ended series one.”
After that cliff-hanger ending, it wasn’t quite sunshine and roses for Denise and Moray, though.
Elliott notes: “Moray has kind-of been banished by Lord Glendenning, Katherine’s dad, understandably. He goes off and leaves The Paradise in Dudley hands. He travels the world, visiting Paris and Morocco, sourcing and curating things to sell.
“He’s spent all of his time working rather than moping, he figures out a way to just carry on. Then out of the blue, a letter arrives in Paris from Katherine asking him to come back and rescue The Paradise.”
Of course, while the feelings between Denise and Moray remain intense, there is still a lot of anger and resentment towards him for abandoning her. And Denise, who quietly clings on to her independence, has ambitions of her own as well.
“He’s pining to see her and eventually he is allowed and invited to come back and is just delighted to see her. At the same time, he’s cautious because things are far more complicated and everybody knows what happened, so he’s treading carefully and he reminds Denise of that immediately. He’s very suspicious of why he’s been asked to come back to The Paradise; something doesn’t feel right about it.”
As for where they stand as a couple, he offers, “They are even stronger because he has more to fight against and he’s not the kind of guy that backs down easily. The bigger the obstacle the more effort he’ll put in to coming out on top. He wants it back even more because the stakes are much higher.”
Of course, this wouldn’t be a gripping drama if there weren’t new characters like Tom Weston brought in to stir things up a bit. Weston by the way is Katherine’s new husband – and he has a game plan of his own.
The 31-year-old actor hints, “They are definitely not best friends and I don’t think they ever will be. He starts off trying to be charming and courteous and mature and part of him hopes they can just get along and the thing with Katherine won’t get in the way. But that’s naive and it all starts falling apart after the first episode. They don’t get on at all.
“He realises the potential danger of Tom, because he is effectively his boss and can fire him at any time. Tom’s also an ex-soldier so Moray treads carefully and tries to cover his animosity to Tom with charm and good-will, at least to begin with.”
To offset the latest arrival, Moray gets his Delilah of a friend from Paris – Clémence Romanis – to help out at The Paradise. She provides an interesting distraction, to say the least.
The Paradise airs on BBC Entertainment (DStv channel 120) on Sunday at 9pm.