Sally Wainwright’s bleak drama about the Bronte sisters, To Walk Invisible, got the thumbs up from viewers on Thursday night.
The two-hour programme, written by Happy Valley’s Sally Wainwright, told the story of the last three years in the lives of the siblings who took the literary world by storm in the 1840s from the wind-blown seclusion of the Yorkshire parsonage where they lived and worked.
Finn Atkins starred as a flinty elder sister Charlotte Bronte, the author of Jane Eyre, with Chloe Pirie playing Wuthering Heights writer Emily and Charlie Murphy taking on Anne, author of Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. All three sisters initially wrote with male-sounding pseudonyms Ellis, Acton and Currer Bell.
And the feminist message particularly resonated with viewers, especially the scene in which Charlotte travelled to London to meet her publisher George Smith (Luke Newberry), revealing who she was despite his obvious doubts that a woman could be the author of Jane Eyre.
Historian Greg Jenner, who advises the CBBC show Horrible Histories, also gave the drama his seal of approval.
Celebrity chef Nigel Slater was also impressed:
Some eagle-eyed viewers also noted the briefest of cameos from James Norton, alongside other alumni from Wainwright’s gritty modern police procedural Happy Valley.
Norton, who played Happy Valley psychopath Tommy Royce, popped up in the film playing a toy soldier Duke of Wellington in a re-enactment of the sisters’ childhood games with their brother Branwell (Adam Nagaitis).