Episode 5

Image for Episode 5Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

Episode 5 of 6

Duration: 59 minutes

Rossetti and Lizzie revel in their new-found status and wealth, acquired courtesy of Ruskin's generous patronage. Swept up in a whirlwind of late-night partying and debauchery, they forget about their art, including the commissions they've promised to complete.

Ruskin is less than impressed. He threatens to end his support unless they calm down and focus. He instructs Lizzie to report to his house every day, in order to paint in his studio. He also instructs her, to Rossetti's annoyance, to stay at her parents' house each night, in order to avoid further temptation to stray from her art. Lizzie responds swiftly and obediently to Ruskin's orders, leaving a disgruntled Rossetti to get back to the church mural he's been commissioned to paint.

Rossetti, as usual, struggles to knuckle down and instead goes out on the town again, commencing a raunchy affair with the street girl Fanny Cornforth. Fanny's beauty, unlike Lizzie's, is large, fleshy and voluptuous, and it inspires in Rossetti a new, richer and more sensual style of painting. Indeed, Fanny's unbridled hedonism, as opposed to Lizzie's tendency towards neurosis, inspires in Rossetti a new lease of life. He receives further creative succour from his new young students, William Morris and Ned Burne-Jones, who offer their unadulterated worship and also their much-needed assistance with the dreaded church mural.

While Rossetti enjoys himself, Lizzie, worried about losing him to another woman, struggles to obey Ruskin's orders to keep away. It's only a matter of time before she returns to find him in Fanny's arms.

  • Cast Interview: Rebecca Davies plays Fanny Cornforth

    You must enable JavaScript to play content

    Rebecca Davies reveals how she overcame the issue of nudity in front of a crew. She also explains her love/hate relationship with an old fashioned pipe.

  • Writer: Peter Bowker discusses Episode 5

    You must enable JavaScript to play content

    Discover how Peter created different scenarios to place his characters on a dramatic collision course.

  • Send a Sonnet: Love's Lovers by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

    You must enable JavaScript to play content

    Share the fifth of six sonnets with someone special by clicking the 'Share' button above. Here Rossetti talks about the ideal version of love, the idea that it comes from a higher power, a cupid figure.


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 Siddal
Ian Puleston-Davies
Mrs Siddal
Polly Kemp
Charlotte Siddal
Josie Farmiloe
Charles Dickens
Mark Heap
William Morris
Dyfrig Morris
Edward Burne-Jones
Peter Sandys-Clarke
Jane Burden
Natalie Thomas
Fanny Cornforth
Rebecca Davies
Mrs Ruskin
Georgie Glen
Rose La Touche
Poppy Lee Friar
Tim FitzHigham
Diarmuid Lawrence
Ben Evans
Executive Producer
Hilary Salmon
Executive Producer
Franny Moyle
Peter Bowker


Buy online

Available on: DVD or Video download

From suppliers including: Amazon, BBC Shop, iTunes

Where to buy

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss