Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales are being retold for a modern audience
in one of the most ambitious adaptations undertaken by the BBC.
Man of Law's Tale
story and Chaucer's tale is just as relevant today as it was back
in the 14th century.
Olivia Hetreed's modernised version, Constance is a young Nigerian
who is found by a couple, Mark and Nicky, on a small boat in the
and Nicky take Constance in and pretty soon she falls in love with
Mark's attractive young boss, Alan (played by Andrew Lincoln).
a young man at Constance's church takes a fancy to her, but when
he finds out his feelings are not reciprocated he takes drastic
action to try to stop Constance and Alan's love from developing
said: "It's an extrordinary film - Alan is a marine archaeologist
and he's young and quite privileged, but he's tender, humorous and
a laid-back kind of guy who has a very intense relationship with
his overbearing mother.
believes in love and he's led by the heart. He's quite a sensitive
and intuitive guy."
King is a responsible character whose world is turned upside down
when a beautiful stranger walks into his life.
when Andrew first got a call about doing Canterbury Tales his initial
thoughts were of Chaucer, 14th-century England and men in tights!
didn't study Chaucer at school because it wasn't on my syllabus
so when my agent phoned me I said: 'You're having a laugh – I'm
not wearing a codpiece and doing olde English!'
friend of mine saw the script that I had which had some olde English
on the front and I said to him that this was what I was doing and
he said to me: 'You ain't going to be able to do this!', but I said:
'Don’t worry, it's an updated version.'
fascinated me though; it's such an old story and I think the way
it translates into a contemporary setting is beautiful and so relevant."
timeless themes of human emotions - such as love and bigotry - are
at the heart of Lincoln's heart, even though he is more often than
not associated with rebellious and cheeky 'geezers' such as Egg
in the cult BBC series This Life, and Simon in Channel 4's Teachers.
heart of the piece is this love story between Alan and Constance
which defies all of the prejudices of his mother, and although he's
not religious he respects Constance's religious passion.
love is colour-blind and classless; it's about these two people
who love each other.
almost like Romeo and Juliet. It's right up my street - I'm a romantic
the course of the story there is a growing-up process that happens
to Alan through great trauma with Constance and the fact that he
has to sever all links with his mother because of her betrayal.
follows his heart which is probably the most courageous thing he's
ever done in his life - I think it's a great allegory for life."
to South Africa, not just Somerset
Lincoln grew up in Somerset, his roots are in South Africa, where
part of the tale was filmed.
mother is South African and left the country because of its apartheid
grandfather stood as a liberal councillor there and many of his
family were in law in the country.
is hopeful that the bigotry and prejudice which Constance experiences
in The Man of Law's Tale, and which plagued South Africa for such
a long time, can soon be eradicated.
said: "Alan's mother, Leila, says the most extraordinary things
but she doesn't even realise the connotations or the repercussions
and this is something that in England we need to combat.
mother has always been an exile in this country and there is still
more polite racism and it's brushed over, but if we are aspiring
to be a multicultural society these things have to be eradicated.
people are getting more integrated," he added.
Lincoln starring in Trevor's World of Sport
is diversifying from his acting and has been directing the new series
of Teachers, but he also has links to several charity projects including
VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), through which he travelled to
got asked because they were trying to recruit teachers and they
were looking for impassioned people like Simon, my character in
was an amazing trip, it changed my life. It was beautiful, really
also works with Plan International and Shelter and although he naturally
shies away from being in the limelight, it was his mother who encouraged
him to make the most of his popularity and fame.
said: "It's come about through work.
not going to pretend I'm some saint because I'm not.
got approached by the charities but I was very reticent because
I don't like doing the celebrity bit, I just want to be an actor.
my mum said to me: 'If you can do anything in any small way to help
promote things, then you've got to do it. It's a moral obligation.'"
Andrew Lincoln is in The
Man of Law's Tale on BBC ONE on Thursday 16 October at 9pm