Blood, Sex and Money. Based on works by Emile Zola. Glenda Jackson stars as Dide, 104 years old and matriarch to a family of wolves – the Rougon-Macquart’s. Les Rougon-Macquart themed around Blood, Sex And Money, the series is a mash-up of the 20 novels, that draws us into 19th century France and the tragic, farcical reign of Napoleon III, as it marches forward towards a modern, industrialised society.
Series 1 | Blood
01 | Animals. France is on the brink of a new Empire. A compelling combination of biting humour and tragedy, as Pierre, Dide’s son siphons off her money and steals his illegitimate sibling’s inheritance. By stark contrast, Dide strikes up a caring and loving relationship with her great grand-son, Silvere, whose friendship and love for Miette is heartbreaking as they run off to join the Republican uprising.
02 | Fire. France is on the brink of a new Empire. Dide’s family is a turbulent mix of the good, the bad and the misguided. This episode, Fire, focuses on Francois and Martha who are happily married, living a quiet, bourgeois life. Abbe Faujas, a charismatic, sinister priest, arrives on their doorstep and announces he has come to live in their spare room. Black comedy and tension ensue as his scheming drives a wedge between the couple, uncovering the darker side of this sleepy provincial town.
03 | Food. Lisa Macquart’s brother-in-law turns up on her doorstep and her entire future seems threatened. A story of love, jealousy and betrayal dramatised by Oliver Emanuel.
04 | Politics. Eugene Rougon was once at the heart of government. Now he’s just another member of the public, and it’s killing him. When his cousin, Lisa Macquart turns up with proof that her brother-in-law is embroiled in a plot to assassinate the Emperor, a game of political chess begins. A story of power and the politics of silence dramatised by Oliver Emanuel.
05 | Drink. Gervaise Macquart has spent her life chasing happiness. Now, as she sits across the table from a bottle of brandy and a quiet, handsome man, she realises just how priceless that feeling is. A story of how other people’s addictions have shaped one woman’s life, dramatised by Oliver Emanuel.
06 | Art. Dide secretly set aside money to support her great-grandson, Claude Lantier, in his pursuit of becoming a great artist. She’s hopeful that the bad blood in the family line won’t taint his talent. Claude, as one of the pioneers of impressionist art, is determined to paint the truth around him, contrary to popular fashion. At the same time he’s desperate to be accepted by the national salon, but when this happens, it’s devastating.
07 | Masterpiece. Dide has invested her only last bit of money in her great-grandson, hopeful that his talent as an artist will pull him out of the dregs of ‘bad blood’ that have cursed the family. Claude suffered a terrible humiliation when his painting was exhibited in the National Salon gallery. He and Christine now have a son and he feels rejuvenated, but his obsession to create ‘the’ masterpiece wreaks havoc.
08 | Fury. Dide follows her great-grandson Jacques, a train driver. Jacques loves his train more than any woman he’s ever met. But Dide is aware of the terrifying, murderous desires that Jacques harbours within.
09 | Trains. The brand new railway system was a powerful force. Dide’s great-grandson Jacques, a train driver, has fallen in love with Sevrine, the first time a woman has come close to challenging his love of trains. As her marriage collapses under the weight of the murderous secret she and her husband share, she seeks her freedom to be with her new love. The pressure on Jacques becomes unbearable.
Series 2 | Sex
01 | Performance. Nana’s been living and working on the dangerous streets of Paris when a theatre manager buys her for the night and realizes just how potent she could be.
02 | Power. A potent story about the clash between love and politics dramatised by Oliver Emanuel. Eugene Rougon is at the peak of his political power when his lover gives him an ultimatum.
03 | Family. Family, takes place over one evening, in the luxurious mansion belonging to Aristide Rougon. Inviting his politically influential brother Eugene round to help clinch the engagement of his feckless son Maxime to a rich young heiress seems a simple enough matter. All his exquisite trophy wife Renee needs to do is look pretty and entertain. So very simple – yet by the end of the evening this rich, seemingly united family has completely unravelled, exposing the rotten core at its heart.
04 | Lovesick. Dide reflects on the fate of Angelique, the love child of the incestuous affair in the previous episode. Abandoned by her real mother and cruel foster carers, Angelique is fortunate enough to be adopted by Hubertine, a kind woman desperate to have a child. Angelique is a strange, obsessive child, inheriting much of the dangerous Macquart-Rougon traits. Dide watches helplessly as Angelique’s love of God clashes fatally with her love of a beautiful young man. Tragedy is the inevitable conclusion.
05 | Innocence by Martin Jameson is inspired by Zola’s The Sin of Father Mouret. A young man wakes up in an idyllic garden in the care of a beautiful young woman. He has no idea of his true identity. But when his memory returns, the young man is forced to question the very nature of his identity and a battle for his soul ensues.
06 | Jealousy by Martin Jameson inspired by Zola’s A Love Episode. Recently widowed, Helene lives a claustrophobic and reclusive life struggling to look after her fragile, sickly daughter Jeanne. But when handsome Doctor Henri Deberle comes to her aid, it seems as if life for both mother and daughter might take a new turn – but Helene soon finds her heart pulled in two irreconcilable directions.
07 | Affairs. By Lavinia Murray. Unusual for Zola, this is comedic and fun. Dide follows her great-grand-son as he journeys to Paris to find his fortune. Octave Mouret, ambitious and a ladies man, moves into an apartment block where there are female delights, it seems, on each floor.
08 | Lust. A story of quenchless desire dramatised by Lavinia Murray. Octave Mouret runs The Ladies Paradise – the greatest shop in Paris. But no matter its success, he’s never satisfied.
09 | Flesh. Love and sex part company in the season finale dramatised by Lavinia Murray. When Nana – Paris’ most famous courtesan returns to the city, she finds herself living in a derelict building with her oldest friend.
Series 3 | Money
01 | Crash. Crash follows the meteoric rise and spectacular fall of Aristide Rougon, whose wild money making speculations in 19th century France are almost an exact mirror of the money markets of today. As he struggles with Bourse, Dide starts to hatch a plan to get out and reveal the truth about the Rougon Macquart evil deeds to the world.
02 | Massacre. In a radical re-imagining of Zola’s classic novel Germinal, the powerful Rougon brothers – Eugene and Aristide – become embroiled in a volatile miners’ strike in North East France, whilst their grandmother plots her escape from the asylum at Tulettes.
03 | Trapped. Following the violent collapse of the Montsou miners’ strike, Etienne Lantier heads back to work determined to find love where revolution has failed. As his great grandmother contemplates the true nature of struggle, Etienne faces a greater reckoning than he could ever have imagined.
04 | Swindle. Sidonie, takes in her orphaned niece, Pauline, and manages to siphon off her considerable fortune.
05 | Inheritance. First of a two part drama set in the depths of rural France where families fight over ownership of land, and the earth takes precedence over humanity. An unflinching and gritty account of rural life in 19th century France, inspired largely by Zola’s novel The Earth.
06 | Reap. Concluding part of drama set in the depths of rural France where families fight over ownership of land, and the earth takes precedence over humanity. Francoise lies dying on her farm, after being attacked by her cousin and sister, husband and wife, Buteau and Lise.
07 | Fate. Two Rougon brothers, Eugene and Aristide, head to Prussia. One on a diplomatic mission to prevent war, one chasing an arms deal. When their worlds clash, the repercussions are monumental.
08 | Apocalypse. The forces of Blood, Sex and Money come to violent fruition in the author’s visceral exploration of the Franco Prussian War. Precipitated in the corridors of power, the war is for ordinary men to fight. Land worker Jean Macquart returns to the army where he makes an unlikely emotional connection with a young soldier under his command. Meanwhile, his Grandmother is on the brink of escape from the asylum at Tulettes.
09 | Ghosts. Dide escapes from the asylum and sets about stopping daughter-in-law Félicité Rougon’s unscrupulous plans to make the family rule supreme in wealth and politics across France. Her third grandson, Pascal, unites his scientific research with her family memories to publish a book that will blow the whistle on all the appalling misdeeds and weaknesses of Dide’s family line. But Félicité will stop at nothing to prevent publication. When Pascal falls in love, to his great surprise, Félicité finds a chink in his armour – with disastrous results.
To accompany the series Blood, Sex and Money ‘The Life and Work of Emile Zola’ is included.