The Devil's Whore

The Devil's Whore (released as The Devil's Mistress in North America) is a four-part television series set during the English Civil War, produced by Company Pictures for Channel 4 in 2008.[1] It is about the adventures of the fictional Angelica Fanshawe and the historical Leveller soldier Edward Sexby and spans the years 1636 to 1660. It was written by Peter Flannery, who began working on the script in 1997.[2] It is believed to have had a budget of £7 million[citation needed]. It was followed by a sequel series, New Worlds, in 2014.

The Devil's Whore
The Devil's Whore.jpg
GenreHistorical drama
Created byPeter Flannery
Directed byMarc Munden
StarringAndrea Riseborough
John Simm
Michael Fassbender
Dominic West
Tim McInnerny
Peter Capaldi
ComposerMurray Gold
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes4
ProducerCompany Pictures
Production locationfilmed in South Africa
EditorJoe Walker
Running time1 × 1h02m
1 × 53m
1 × 52m
1 × 51m
215 minutes (Full running time)
Original networkChannel 4 (UK)
Audio format2 Channel
Original release19 November (2008-11-19) –
10 December 2008 (2008-12-10)
External links


The series was filmed in South Africa. This caused some negative comment from reviewers but the producers maintained that they had been unable to find suitably "old English" locations in England.[3]



No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"Episode 1"Marc MundenMartine Brant, Peter Flannery19 November 2008 (2008-11-19)
Covering the lead up to the war and the battles of Croyland Abbey, Edgehill and Newbury, this episode dealt with the events from Angelica's marriage to her husband's shooting by Charles I's firing squad for surrendering their manor house. Angelica is born in 1623, when England is divided both politically and religiously, a time when political disobedience turned to revolution and civil war, and English history changed forever.
2"Episode 2"Marc MundenMartine Brant, Peter Flannery26 November 2008 (2008-11-26)
The people of the besieged city of Oxford are in a desperate situation. Devastated by the King's brutal betrayal, Angelica has been cast out of court, and finds herself destitute and starving. Meanwhile, divisions are beginning to split the Parliamentarians.
3"Episode 3"Marc MundenMartine Brant, Peter Flannery3 December 2008 (2008-12-03)
The country is divided and in shock as Oliver Cromwell puts the King on trial for treason and becomes the first head of the Republican Government.
4"Episode 4"Marc MundenMartine Brant, Peter Flannery10 December 2008 (2008-12-10)
Sexby and Angelica seek to avenge themselves on Oliver Cromwell. With Sexby arrested and exiled after he refuses to fight for Cromwell, a distraught Angelica agrees to honour Sexby's departing wish and settle her debt with her enemy Joliffe.

North American releaseEdit

The series was released on DVD in North America in 2011. Retitled The Devil's Mistress, it presents the series as two two-hour episodes.


Critical reception was positive, though there was some criticism of the omission of some figures and events (such as John Pym, the Earl of Bedford, Sir Thomas Fairfax, Sir Denzil Holles, 1st Baron Holles, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, Colonel Sir John Hutchinson, Henry Ireton and the Bishops' Wars) and the fictionalisation of others (such as the suggestion that Cromwell orchestrated Rainsborough's death,[4] of Rainsborough not Sexby being a close friend of Cromwell's, Sexby's going to Ireland and the losing of his arm and Sexby's assassination attempt on Cromwell[5]).

Critical reception of the first episode was positive, with Nancy Banks-Smith of The Guardian praising Capaldi's performance and calling the drama "rollicking", "well written and acted" and marked by "a quite serious attempt to explain the underlying issues".[6] The Telegraph also praised Capaldi, along with the lack of anachronisms and the treatment of the era's sexual politics.[7] The Independent called it "bodice-rippingly melodramatic" and showing a tension between Flannery's "desire to get as much real political fact in as he can and the ... requirement that a primetime series should liven up the party with sexual tension and historical glamour".[8] The Times called it "a curious beast - mannered and theatrical, with modern-looking faces speaking period dialogue in an historical dreamscape" and "If not entirely successful, ... the best sort of failure - unusual, brave and fascinating".[9] Another Times critic criticised it for "slightly too much reading history backwards here, almost making Angelica look like a modern woman travelled back in time" and its "frankly unnecessary bedroom scenes ... slipped in, presumably to demonstrate her liberated nature", whilst overall praising the episode as "gripping", "cutting" and "lively" and in particular noting that Simm played Sexby "strikingly".[10] The Radio Times also noted it as "an intelligent, richly textured labour of love".[11] John Adamson, a non-stipendiary by-fellow in History at Peterhouse, Cambridge, criticized the series as "a cartoon-strip version of the Civil War".[12]

Awards and nominationsEdit

The series won in the Best Drama Series category at the 35th Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio Awards (2009) and Riseborough won in the Best Actress Category.[13] Michele Clapton won at the BAFTA Awards, in the category of Best Costume Design.[14]


  1. ^ Hemley, Matthew (11 June 2007) Writer Flannery pens war drama for Channel 4, The Stage
  2. ^ Hastings, Chris (11 June 2007) Channel 4 sexes up the Puritans, The Daily Telegraph
  3. ^ "Last Night's Television: The Devil's Whore, Channel 4Dangerous".
  4. ^ Contemporary suspicion of Cromwell's possible collusion in Rainsborough's murder has been discussed by some historians, e.g. Williamson, Who was the Man in the Iron Mask and Other Historical Mysteries, 180. Lilburne also made this accusation against Cromwell and the Grandees, see, e.g., Southern Forlorn Hope, 68-9.
  5. ^ Bennett, Ronan (14 November 2008). "Remember the revolution?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  6. ^ Banks-Smith, Nancy (20 November 2008). "Last night's TV". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 November 2008.
  7. ^ Horspool, David (18 November 2008). "Last night's television". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 25 May 2010.[dead link]
  8. ^ Sutcliffe, Tom (20 November 2008). "Last night's television". The Independent. London. Retrieved 20 November 2008.
  9. ^ Chater, David (19 November 2008). "Tonight's TV". The Times. London.
  10. ^ Hume, Mick (20 November 2008). "The Devil's Whore; Wild About Your Garden". The Times. London. Retrieved 20 November 2008.
  11. ^ "The Devil's Whore". 19 November 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2008.
  12. ^ "The Week UK". The Week UK.
  13. ^ Douglas, Torin (27 March 2009). "Winners - 35th BPG Television and Radio Awards". Broadcasting Press Guild. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  14. ^ "2009 Television Craft Costume Design - BAFTA Awards".

External linksEdit