While it’s not unusual for starry BBC TV dramas to have a bit of a gap between series, Steven Knight and Tom Hardy’s offbeat period piece Taboo really does take the Tabiscuit.
After airing in early 2017, soon afterwards it was announced that Hardy’s “devil Delaney” would be back for another series as he headed west in the early 19th century – but over two years later there’s still no sign of it, and no conclusions for the various dangling storylines left at the end of the moody series’ original finale.
Now, the head of FX (the US network that makes the drama alongside the BBC and production company Scott Free) has recently suggested that Taboo might not be coming back at all, and that if it does, leading man Hardy could take more of a backseat.
“It really just comes down to Tom; it comes down to what Tom wants to do, when he wants to do it, when he is available,” FX Chairman John Landgraf told Deadline.
“I could see both those seasons getting made and relatively soon, and I could see neither of those seasons getting made.”
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He added: “We’ve talked about — and are still talking about — the possibility of doing a season of which Tom would be a part of but not at the very centre of it.
“He seems very emotionally, very committed to this character, though, and very committed to this show. And Steven [Knight] is still passionate and wants to write it, but it comes down to Tom’s availability.”
So could Taboo really be in danger? Well, at the moment it’s hard to say. Speaking at a recent screening for his other series Peaky Blinders, Knight seemed confident that a second series was in hand.
“Taboo 2, I’ve just had a conversation two days ago with Tom [Hardy], and we’re – I’ve written six, so it’s just a question of getting everyone together, getting the schedule sorted,” he said.
Knight insisting that the series is very much in the works puts a more positive spin on Taboo’s fate – and it’s not the only clue that Hardy could be gearing up for a return.
In early August, Instagram account Son of Horace 1814, a profile run by Hardy himself to officially promote Taboo, posted its first image since 2017, though the picture – of a painted face with bright green eyes accompanied by flame, eagle and playing card spade emojis (all symbols regularly used in the series and on the account) – was later deleted.
Could this post have been intended as a response to Landgraf’s comments at the Television Critics’ Association event? A nod to fans that Taboo’s future was still secure? The picture was posted around a day after Landgraf’s comments were widely reported.
When contacted by RadioTimes.com, Taboo production company Scott Free declined to comment for this story, and the BBC also remains tight-lipped about Taboo’s immediate future.
However, we understand that the series is still expected to return at some point – but until Hardy’s schedule can be locked down and production set in motion, none of the parties concerned want to commit to any kind of official airdate.
In other words, evidence suggests that Taboo will be back for another run of episodes – but it won’t be soon. It’s possible, as with all these things, that busy schedules could still see the whole project fall apart, as Landgraf warned.
But with both Knight and Hardy demonstrably keen to keep the Taboo flame alive, the future of James Delaney and his allies may be brighter than first appears. Watch this space.