Taboo – BBC One

Taboo is a period drama series that was first broadcast on BBC One on the 7th of January 2017 and was then re-aired on BBC Two in March of the same year. “Set in 1814, series one follows James Keziah Delaney, a man who has been to the ends of the earth and comes back irrevocably changed. Believed to be long dead, he returns home to London from Africa to inherit what is left of his father’s shipping empire and rebuild a life for himself”(1) The show was broadcast on BBC One, as it perfectly fits into what they want out of a Drama, on their Drama commissioning page, they state that “we want to challenge our viewers and the boundaries of BBC One by taking ambitious risks with edgier programmes”(2)

Taboo is a perfect example of an “edgy” programme with its dark tone, scenes of torture and incest; and themes of corporate greed in the British Empire. Taboo was shown on BBC One after the watershed on a Saturday night and on BBC Two, on a Tuesday night, “between 9:15pm and 10:10pm”(3) It was broadcast at this time, as being past the 9pm watershed allows the show to use strong language and violence and be overall ‘darker’ without the need to censor it for children, it was also shown on BBC Two as they state they are a “mainstream channel with an edgy, angled perspective on the world” (4) very similar to how BBC One treat their Dramas. This show fits with a typical BBC Two Drama as they are mostly themed very dark and gritty with shows such as the gangster Period Drama ‘Peaky Blinders’ which was written by the same screenwriter as Taboo; Steven Knight.


The series follows a “segmental process, the programme series with its distinctive
forms of repetition and favoured forms of problematic” Most episodes of the series have a cliffhanger that leaves the audience wanting more, it ends on Delaney burning a letter from his sister that begs him to “keep the secrets of the past buried deep” straight after a scene where he refuses to give his inherited land to the East India Company. The show itself took many different and complex angles, “It’s not enough that Taboo deals with long-buried sins and secrets – there must also be incest and exorcisms, slaves and spies, gunpowder plots and increasingly gruesome deaths” (6). If this wasn’t shocking enough, there is “extreme violence” (6) and language, opening the BBC to the “Game of Thrones generation”(7), and this, in my opinion, is the direction British television should keep going.



(1) (2017). BBC – BBC One and FX announce second series of Taboo – Media Centre. [online]Available at:
[Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
(2) (2017). BBC – Drama on BBC One – Commissioning.
[online] Available at:
[Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
(3) What time is Taboo on TV tonight?, W. (2017). What time is Taboo on TV tonight?.
[online] Radio Times. Available at:
[Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
(4) (2017). BBC – Drama on BBC Two – Commissioning.
[online] Available at:
[Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
(5) Ellis, J (1992). Visual Fictions: Cinema, Television, Video (revised. ed). London; New York: Rutledge). Retrieved 9 November 2017.
(6)Hughes, S. (2017). Naysayers be damned! Tom Hardy’s Taboo is a work of Wicker Man genius.
[online] the Guardian. Available at:
[Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
(7) British Film Institute. (2017). The best British TV of 2017 so far.
[online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].

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