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Desperate Romantics

Episode 3

Duration: 1 hour

First broadcast: on BBC HDLatest broadcast: on BBC Four

The youngest and most talented member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, John Millais, delights in having landed the influential John Ruskin as his new patron. His friends and fellow artists, Hunt and Rossetti, watch on in bitter envy as Millais begins his rise to fame and fortune.

However, before long Millais realises that Ruskin's patronage comes at a price. Ruskin insists on Millais painting his beautiful, young wife Effie who, it is plain to see, is far from happy. She confesses to Millais that after five years of marriage she is still a virgin. Ruskin cannot or will not lay a finger on her. Effie explains to Millais that he is just another in a long line of men that Ruskin has attempted to lay in her path in order to stop her raising the issue of sex. Horrified, Millais realises what is expected of him: in return for Ruskin's patronage, he is to sleep with his wife.

True to form, Rossetti immediately seizes on the benefits of his friend's predicament. Millais has a rich and influential patron married to a beautiful, young woman who he wants Millais to sleep with as and when he pleases. Where lies the problem in that?

Millais, however, is crestfallen at the idea of sleeping with another man's wife. What of the potential scandal? He resolves to walk away from Ruskin and to leave the whole situation behind altogether. But there is one significant problem with this plan - he is in love with Effie. 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
Charlotte Siddal:
Josie Farmiloe
Charles Dickens:
Mark Heap
Mrs Ruskin:
Georgie Glen
Executive Producer:
Hilary Salmon
Executive Producer:
Franny Moyle
Ben Evans
Paul Gay

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