From BBC Radio 4 – the Rougon-Macquart’s by Emile Zola:
The first season of 24 hours of drama inspired by the works of literature’s greatest whistle blower – Emile Zola. Glenda Jackson stars as Dide, 104 years old and matriarch to a family of wolves – the Rougon-Macquart’s.
France is on the brink of a new Empire. This episode is a compelling combination of biting humour and tragedy, as Pierre, Dide’s son siphons off her money and steals his illegitimate sibling’s inheritance. By stark contrast, Dide strikes up a caring and loving relationship with her great grand-son, Silvere, whose friendship and love for Miette is heartbreaking as they run off to join the Republican uprising.
2/9: She is trapped in her small room in the local asylum in Plassans, southern France. Trapped, but omniscient as she broods over her extended family. As a young woman, she gave birth to two dynasties that exemplified French society. One legitimate – rich, powerful, obsessive and corrupt. The other illegitimate – poor, vulnerable, weak and depraved.
3/9: Lisa Macquart’s brother-in-law turns up on her doorstep and her entire future seems threatened.
4/9: Eugene Rougon was once at the heart of government. Now he’s just another member of the public, and it’s killing him. When his cousin, Lisa Macquart turns up with proof that her brother-in-law is embroiled in a plot to assassinate the Emperor, a game of political chess begins.
5/9: Gervaise Macquart has spent her life chasing happiness. Now, as she sits across the table from a bottle of brandy and a quiet, handsome man, she realises just how priceless that feeling is.
6/9: Dide secretly set aside money to support her great-grandson, Claude Lantier, in his pursuit of becoming a great artist. She’s hopeful that the bad blood in the family line won’t taint his talent. Claude, as one of the pioneers of impressionist art, is determined to paint the truth around him, contrary to popular fashion. At the same time he’s desperate to be accepted by the national salon, but when this happens, it’s devastating.
7/9: Glenda Jackson stars as Dide, 104 years old, the matriarch to a family of wolves. Only she had high hopes for Claude. Dide has invested her only last bit of money in her great-grandson, hopeful that his talent as an artist will pull him out of the dregs of ‘bad blood’ that have cursed the family. Claude suffered a terrible humiliation when his painting was exhibited in the National Salon gallery. He and Christine now have a son and he feels rejuvenated, but his obsession to create ‘the’ masterpiece wreaks havoc.
8/9: Dide follows her great-grandson Jacques, a train driver. Jacques loves his train more than any woman he’s ever met. But Dide is aware of the terrifying, murderous desires that Jacques harbours within.
9/9: As society changes around her, Dide is still trapped in her small room in the local asylum, but omniscient when it comes to her extended family. As a young woman, she gave birth to two dynasties that exemplified French society. One legitimate – rich, powerful, obsessive and corrupt. The other illegitimate – poor, vulnerable, weak and depraved.
Produced and Directed by Pauline Harris
Damaged by a lifetime of seizures and her mind scarred by trauma but Dide cannot forget her family. “What did I bring into this world? Wolves… I have raised a family of Wolves… I have watched their years. I will tell their story. Crime by crime. Blood by blood.” Dide (GLENDA JACKSON) marries Rougon, and gives birth to Pierre Rougon (ROBERT LINDSAY). After Rougon’s death, Dide has an affair with the smuggler Macquart and gives birth to Antione Macquart (IAN HART) and Ursule (Kate Coogan) and the Rougon-Macquart dynasty is born.
Les Rougon-Macquart themed around Blood, Sex And Money, the series is a mash-up of the 20 novels, that draws us into 19th century France and the tragic, farcical reign of Napoleon III, as it marches forward towards a modern, industrialised society.