Joanne Whalley plays Aunt Patience who is living with her husband Joss Merlyn (Sean Harris), the landlord of Jamaica Inn, when she is visited by her niece Mary Yellan (Jessica Brown Findlay). She spoke to the BBC TV blog about BBC One’s adaption of Daphne du Maurier’s best-selling gothic novel.

Mary Yellan (Jessica Brown Findlay) arrives looking for her Aunt Patience (Joanne Whalley)

What were your first impressions of the adaptation?
When I read the scripts I got really excited because I thought Emma Frost had brought a really modern take on Jamaica Inn without changing anything.

I read the book years ago and I’ve always had a lovely edition of it on a book tower by my bed. She illuminated it in a contemporary way that I latched on to.


Can you tell us a bit about your character Aunt Patience?
It’s a great love story but she is very damaged by it and she has this unconditional blind love that motivates her.

She has put her lot in with Joss and is going to see it through all the way. I loved her commitment and I found her moving.

I love how she changes and I love that sometimes she’s terrible. But then I understand why she’s awful sometimes.

You would go a bit crazy stuck out there by yourself with a gang of wreckers.

'A lonely spot like this, we could be murdered in our beds'

I’m sure she imagined a different life for herself at one point and you see what time and this love has done to her.

How was she different from the character in the novel?
I don’t think anything changed. My memory of the novel was that Patience was crazy and I guess you would call her abused, mad, but really there is a sense in her madness in how Emma wrote the script working from the book.

She brought out the understanding that we all have now: abuse can be a cycle that you can’t break easily.

That’s why women find it difficult to leave abusive husbands sometimes.

It’s never that simple when huge emotional dependency is involved, or what we call love.

I was able to identify with Patience, who was made accessible in a modern way without sacrificing the period, because of how she was given that dimension in the writing.

'Don't you give me judgement for something you don't understand' - Aunt Patience

What was it like working with the director?
Anyone who reads a book can see things completely differently and have a different take on a character according to their own life experience and their world view at that given moment.

It’s always interesting to hear people’s perceptions of the same material.

I really liked what Philippa Lowthorpe was saying about the story and the character and how she talked about it visually.

How did the location influence filming?
Julian Court, the director of photography, did a spectacular job with the tones and the textures and the bleakness.

It is like another character: you feel the setting and the environment.

We react to our environments, unconsciously and consciously, and we are affected by our surroundings.

It affects your mood and your perception of your life and relationships.

You feel the mood that enhances and pushes them all deeper into the impossible situation they are in.

Joanne Whalley plays Aunt Patience in Jamaica Inn.

Jamaica Inn starts on Monday, 21 April at 9pm BBC One and BBC One HD. The series continues at the same time on Tuesday, 22 April and Wednesday, 23 April. For further programme times please see the episode guide.

More On Jamaica Inn
BBC: Jamaica Inn: Meet the characters
BBC Media Centre: Read interviews with Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew McNulty, Emma Frost and Phillippa Lowthorpe
Radio Times: Radio Times discovers the real Jamaica Inn
The Telegraph: Jessica Brown Findlay interview

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

Comments

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  • Comment number 155. Posted by Taps99

    on 4 May 2014 16:34

    Sean Harris is a fine actor and made a convincing attempt at an authentic Cornish accent - which in real life would also to very hard to understand if not familiar/attuned. I dislike the idea that all actors should sound fresh from RADA. I commend the BBC for tackling this touch artist decision - but if he had a polished clear accent - it would not seam to fit the character portrayed.

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  • Comment number 154. Posted by Rapscallion

    on 1 May 2014 11:38

    I must admit, I agree with other posters. The sound quality that the beeb puts out is atrocious. The background noises are so magnified that they drown out the dialogue. I gave up too, having really looked forward to the series, a jewel among the dross of modern day television, or so I thought.
    It is not just in the Drama section that this happens either. For example in Formula 1, the first race of the season you could actually hear the commentators as the engine noises have been greatly reduced by the new spec of the cars. Second race, back to square one.................could not hear above the engine noise again.
    Is there some valid reason for this? I think not. Seems to be most of the broadcasters are similarly inclined.............An explanation would be appreciated.

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  • Comment number 153. Posted by Astral H

    on 30 Apr 2014 20:02

    I'm I the only one who absolutely loved this? Viewed on my laptop with headphones I understood just about every word. The Martin brothers were beautifully acted, as were Mary & Patience. Well worth the license fee in my opinion.

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  • Comment number 152. Posted by John

    on 29 Apr 2014 20:18

    The 1980s version of Jamaica Inn is far better than this abortion. The character of Joss Merlyn portrayed by Patrick McGoohan was much superior as was the supporting cast of Jane Seymour
    and Trevor Eve. Some things are best left alone !

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  • Comment number 151. Posted by jambo6842

    on 28 Apr 2014 11:31

    Badly needed an armourer to advise on the pistol shoot out towards the end of last episode as (a) Davy the minister fired a single shot flintlock pistol four times without reloading once [reloading time for an inexperienced user would be about 45+ seconds] (b) The last shot he made when threatening Mary was done with the pistol frizzen and hammer forward [fired position] - not possible!!!! (c) Our hero fired his final shot at Davey while out of breath with the muzzle wavering and still managed to hit the target fatally over a distance of about 50 meters - highly unlikely. So please add my contribution to this review of a poor quality production.

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  • Comment number 150. Posted by mirlo

    on 27 Apr 2014 00:33

    Just seen the last episode, absolutely loved it, incredibly atmospheric, verging on horror. Ignore the moaners, well done BBC!

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  • Comment number 149. Posted by Nick Wigg

    on 25 Apr 2014 18:51

    I am partially deaf and always need the subtitles so I lost nothing more than usual of this extraordinary pice of TV drama I find the comments about mumbling really a bit sad.. That people have such an excellent piece of drama, such very fine acting from all the cast, before them and all people can think to say is that they can't hear clearly. Sure it would have been easier for them not to have to resort subtitles, but that is so typical of modern society, if it isn't easy forget it. I cannot thank the BBC enough for this wonderful trilogy, I think Du Maurier would have liked it and appreciated the subtleties of the piece, I read the story as a child and my childs imagination provided the fear and excitement that must accompany such activity, The violence and sadness experienced by many of the people invloved was made real in this dramatisation and perhaps the most extraordinary thing was that this story from a distant past rang with a a message that could be understood by any modern drug dealer, gang member policemand judge or victim of events like this. Society has changed little since the early 1800s we a re still capable of the same violence, the same greed the same fears and madnesses Let us be glad that we are alos capable of producing artisitic productions of this quality.

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  • Comment number 148. Posted by fortyfoot

    on 25 Apr 2014 17:59

    Agree with all about sound, mumbling, and lack of lighting. I bet the director said to the actors, I want reality not costume drama, and that was her first and last mistake.What she ended up with was a dreary mess that no one wanted to watch. Drama is 'heightened reality' not 'real' otherwise it isn't drama! Doh!

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  • Comment number 147. Posted by 1babysox

    on 25 Apr 2014 15:23

    I love period dramas and was looking forward to this. Sorely disappointed! Could not tell a word the character of Joss was saying! He sounded like he was mumbling in foreign tongue! Very slow, lots of music with big silences. Was as bleak as it's surroundings.

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  • Comment number 146. Posted by Big Texas Butters

    on 25 Apr 2014 09:26

    Way to go, Joanne! Yours was a fantastic, empathetic performance in a production that was inventive, challenging and in the end spectacular. I also appreciate the fresh take on DDM's story while remaining true to the spirit of the novel.

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