Written 600 years ago, Chaucer’s morality tales explore the timeless themes of love, lust, greed, gluttony and faith. Just as compelling today, BBC CANADA presents the North American Premiere of Canterbury Tales, six contemporary stories exploring humanity’s virtues and vices in one-hour episodes airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET (10 p.m. PT), beginning April 28.
In this inventive 21st century version, these stories – brought to life by an all-star cast, including Julie Walters (Billy Elliot ), Om Puri (East is East) and Jonny Lee Miller(Trainspotting) – have evolved to attract a modern audience.
· Wed., April 28 at 9 p.m. ET – “The Wife of Bath”
In a role that earned her a Best Comedy Actress nomination at the 2003 British Comedy Awards, Julie Walters plays Beth Craddock, a vibrant, larger-than-life Canterbury soap star with an optimistic perspective on love and marriage – she’s had four of them. When husband number four leaves her for another woman, Beth finds comfort in the arms of another man – one more than 20 years her junior. It’s a tumultuous affair, and with the pressures of their age difference looming large, Beth takes drastic steps to turn back the clock. In a culture obsessed with Botox and “nip and tuck” vacations, this bawdy tale
explores the limits of love, youth and aging gracefully.
· Wed., May 5 at 9 p.m. ET – “The Miller’s Tale”
John (Denis Waterman, New Tricks) runs a karaoke night at his suburban Kent pub/B&B, and his much younger wife, Alison (recording artist Billie Piper), is the queen bee of the sing-along stage. A smooth-talking talent scout (James Nesbitt, Cold Feet) visits the pub and declares that Alison has what it takes to be a star. With these honeyed words – and the illusion that anyone can achieve Pop Idol-type stardom – she is drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Her husband, however, suspects that the agent may have ulterior motives when it comes to his beautiful, young wife.
· Wed., May 12 at 9 p.m. ET – “The Knight’s Tale”
Ace (John Simm, State of Play) and Paul (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Trust) are prison inmates and childhood friends who become bitter enemies when they fall in love with the same woman – their prison tutor, Emily (Keeley Hawes, Spooks: MI5). After embracing education and earning his release, Ace tentatively pursues Emily as a free man. Meanwhile Paul, consumed by jealousy, makes a break for it and escapes from jail, ushering this unconventional love story towards a tragic turn of events.
· Wed., May 19 at 9 p.m. ET – “The Sea Captain’s Tale”
Om Puri plays Jetender, a wealthy Gravesend moneylender and South Asian “Godfather” in this tale about greed, power and class. Jetender goes into business with the young Pushpinder (Nitin Ganatra, Being April), who soon falls in love with Jetender’s beautiful and frivolous wife, Meena (Indira Varma, In a Land of Plenty). In debt for pursuing an extravagant lifestyle beyond her means – the jewels, the clothes, the shoes – behind her husband’s back, Meena charms and cajoles Pushpinder into secretly borrowing money for her from Jetender. Money in hand, her manipulative ways reveal a more telling picture of who she really is behind the flawless makeup and perfect manicure of a trophy wife.
· Wed., May 26 at 9 p.m. ET – “The Pardoner’s Tale”
Still reeling from the rape and murder of a young woman a year earlier, the community of Rochester rallies together to look for a missing teenager. A local thug (Jonny Lee Miller) and his friends concoct a scheme to raise money to line their own pockets by soliciting donations for the community search, but their greed brings about their own grim downfall.
· Wed., June 2 at 9 p.m. ET – “The Man of Law’s Tale”
Nikki Amuka-Bird (Holby City) plays Constance, a devoutly religious Nigerian asylum – seeker, whose small boat ends up at the Chatham docks and who is taken in by Mark and Nicky. In Chatham, Constance joins a new church where she catches the eye of Terry. He pursues her, but Constance doesn’t return his affections. She’s fallen in love with Mark’s boss, Allan (Andrew Lincoln, Love Actually) and the couple is forced to confront issues of violence, faith and bigotry.
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