When I saw the series Bedlam being advertised on Sky’s Living I instantly knew it was going to be a cushion-clutching treat. You can imagine my excitement when I found out I’d managed to miss season one and thus had a whole collection of episodes to enjoy before allowing my eyes to feast upon season two’s offerings. So off I skipped to Virgin’s On Demand where the first thing I noticed was how short the series was. Only 6 episodes long! I wondered what the writers hoped to achieve with this brief stint on the box and if by the end they would have their audience teetering at the edge of their seats, primed for season 2?
Written and created by David Allison, Neil Jones and Chris Parker, they introduce us to the morbid history of Bedlam and show how despite it’s facelift, the horrors contained within the former mental asylum still make things go bump in the night. Theo James plays Jed Harper, who himself has just been released from a psychiatric institution because; *whispers* “he sees dead people”. Not only does he see the unsettled spirits but also how they died and it’s up to him to bring them peace so they don’t torment the residents of what is now a luxury apartment block.
Much like other shows such as Medium and Ghost Whisperer that fall into the ‘lets help the ghosts before they do damage’ genre, Harper has his sidekicks and fortunately for him they’re all live-in workers for Bedlam’s owner and his uncle, Warren Bettany (Hugo Speer). Will Young plays Ryan McAllister; the sexually fluid techie, who manages to hook up with both of his female flatmates despite them both acknowledging his obvious ‘gayness’. He watches as invisible forces drag and attempt to drown Kate Bettany (Charlotte Salt) in possibly the most gorgeous of tubs and is an instant believer of Jed’s abilities pledging to help in any way he can.
His role as sidekick has him hunting down clues, where together they find out that Jed was in fact born in Bedlam and the man he’d looked at as his uncle had taken him from the institute to be adopted by his barren sister. More digging and it turns out Jed’s mother was raped multiple times by the Bedlam staff and that uncle Warren had been lying to him whole life. Add that to the Bettany family’s long history with Bedlam; his grandfather was one of the doctors ‘curing’ patients of insanity, psychosis and other ailments, while he too worked at the institute up until it’s closure and it’s no wonder the ghosts and ghoulies are looking to get their own back!
I liked how the writers drew upon Bedlam’s past, peppering the show throughout with the institute’s dark truths. The Bettany’s family reminiscent of the Monro’s who had a long history of ‘mad-doctoring’ and inhumane practices on the patients in their care. I also liked how in each of the episodes the guest stars being plagued by the ghosts had personal traumas to reconcile. Episode 3: Inmates introduces us to Sadie, who like Jed has also ‘served time’ in an institute following a breakdown. She has a muddy box left for her repeatedly and after trying to burn it fails, she tries to bury the box only to narrowly escaped being dragged into the dirt.
Turns out the baby she had buried believing to have been a stillbirth, had in fact been alive. The Bedlam ghost haunting her, after some sleuth skills from Ryan had also given birth to an illegitimate child had died following a lobotomy at the hospital. My favourite episode of the series had to be the finale Burning Man, it had me screaming at the screen, I mean why did Molly (Ashley Madekwe) think it was ok to play with Tarot cards in a haunted asylum?! After playing with mystical fire she gets burnt by an inmate who was locked up for murdering his sister and setting her alight. As though that wasn’t gruesome enough he casually douses himself with fuel, sets himself alight and casually strolls through Bedlam causing a fire that claimed the lives of 3 others.
The show had me oohing and ahhing at the gothic decor, the homey Ikea features and fixtures, in between blinking hard to hide my fear of the creepy characters causing all the ruckus. Safe to say I’m ready to start catching up on season two, am looking forward to seeing what happens to Molly who was last seen leaving the house in her pyjamas nonchalantly jumping into a white van. What will happen to daddy and daughter Bettany, can their relationship survive all the supernatural strains; but most importantly how on earth does Stacey Slater fit into it all?!
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