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Desperate Romantics

Episode 2

Duration: 1 hour

First broadcast: on BBC HDLatest broadcast: on BBC Four

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood continue their quest for credibility, celebrity and success.

With the help of their new friend, journalist Fred Walters, they have caught the attention of the pre-eminent art critic of the day, John Ruskin, and they now have to persuade Ruskin to buy their work. The prodigious and impossibly talented John Millais sets about rustling up a masterpiece to show Ruskin. The work is Ophelia, and he chooses Lizzie Siddal to sit for it. Rossetti, who is convinced that he is nothing without Lizzie as his muse, is furious with Millais for taking her from under his nose.

Hunt, meanwhile, attempts a masterpiece of his own, with street girl Annie Miller once again sitting for him. Having lost his virginity to Annie, Hunt remains unable to resist her charms and is cast into turmoil as he battles with his deep-felt religiosity and conflicting sexual desire.

Everything in the Brothers' world comes crashing to a halt when Lizzie falls unconscious with pneumonia while posing as Ophelia in a bath of cold water. Millais, distracted by thoughts of Effie, Ruskin's beautiful young wife, had failed to notice Lizzie sinking into a decline. As Lizzie's life hangs in the balance, so does Millais' masterpiece and thereby the Brotherhood's most promising chance of gaining recognition. However, Rossetti no longer cares about the future of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as he contemplates a future without the woman he loves. Show less


William 'Maniac' Hunt:
Rafe Spall
Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
Aidan Turner
John Millais:
Samuel Barnett
Fred Walters:
Sam Crane
John Ruskin:
Tom Hollander
Effie Ruskin:
Zoe Tapper
Lizzie Siddal:
Amy Manson
Annie Miller:
Jennie Jacques
Mr Stone:
Phil Davis
Mrs Siddal:
Polly Kemp
Charlotte Siddal:
Josie Farmiloe
Charles Dickens:
Mark Heap
Mrs Ruskin:
Georgie Glen
Maimie McCoy
Executive Producer:
Hilary Salmon
Executive Producer:
Franny Moyle
Ben Evans
Paul Gay

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