In 2011 ITV screened five-part supernatural drama Marchlands which followed the story of the titular house over three different periods and explored the live of the families that lived there all of whom were linked by a common bond. Marchlands was successful enough to warrant a follow-up and that follow-up has arrived this week in the form of Lightfields which once again tells a story of three different families in three different decades who once again are linked by one tragic event.
The Lightfields of the title is a Suffolk farmhouse which in 1944 is owned by the Felwood family whose daughter Lucy is starting to come of age and having a relationship with one of the local boys. Lucy’s world is changed by the arrival of new girl Eve who is staying with her aunt and who is older and more experienced than Lucy. Having previously lived a sheltered life on the farm Eve’s arrival brings with it an exposure to the outside world and Lucy finds herself growing tired of her old life. When Lucy happens upon Dwight, the GI that Eve has been having a relationship with, the two start to bond and we get the impression that a romance is about to begin between the two. Meanwhile the Felwood family’s odd job man Tom joins the Home Guard and feels that he is now good enough to ask Lucy out however with her head now turned by Dwight she isn’t interested in any of the local lads. However soon tragedy strikes the Felwood family and it is that tragedy that echoes through the decade.
The next owners of Lightfields Farm are Vivien Mullan and her daughter Claire who move to the house during the summer of 1975 so that teacher Vivien can try and write her novel away from the sounds of the city. We later discover that Vivien is Eve’s sister who was eight during the 1944 part of the story and therefore cannot remember the summer that her sister has never talked about. As we learn early on Vivien and Claire are the first proper inhabitants of Lightfields as the owner has just started letting the property once again while we later discover that even some squatters were scared off. The reason for them being scared off soon becomes apparent as lights randomly flick on and off while Claire hears a mysterious voice on her tape machine while attempting to record a message to her father. It later appears as if Vivien has blocked out certain memories of the summer of 1944 as when she meets an older version of Tom she doesn’t remember him however as Vivien spends more time in the house certain places seem familiar.
As in Marchlands the third story in Lightfields is set in the present day where Barry and his wife Lorna are now living and caring for their grandson Luke while running the farmhouse as a B&B. Early on Barry and Lorna welcome Barry’s frail father Pip, who is also Lucy’s brother, back to Lightfields after sixty-eight years away. The thorn in Barry and Lorna’s side comes in the form of Paul, Luke’s estate agent father who is totally obnoxious to his former in-laws who rightly treat him with contempt. The first episode of Lightfields doesn’t spend a lot of time in the present day however the final scene does attempt to link in the tragedy from the 1940s to the domestic drama of the modern day scenes.
It’s hard to review a programme like Lightfields without talking about the plot in great detail but as most of you won’t have seen it yet so instead I’ll try to give some of my thoughts on it. Firstly, like with Marchlands, Lightfields gives you a sense of time and place with all three different time periods separated in the way they are shot and also in what the characters are wearing. So in the 1940s we get mostly brightly-shot exterior scenes of vast countryside and everbody wears a sort of rustic get-up as we are on a farm after all. The 1970s scenes are slightly grainier with a focus on the soundtrack which includes everything from the Isley Brothers to Cockney Rebel while both Claire and Vivian are dressed very much like hippies. The modern day scenes are shot in much more of a cold light, with the focus here being on a clean new start as Barry attempts to turn Lightfields into a business once again. While some of the period costumes seem a little clichéd I did think they worked within the world of the supernatural drama. Fans of subtle horror may want to steer clear of Lightfields though as everything’s pretty much spelt out for you with whispered voices, lights turning out and figures seen in rooms Lightfields is the very definition of a haunted house. I think the beauty of the programme is in working out the links between the three generations and finding out what each has to do to rid Lightfields of the ghost once and for all.
In terms of the cast this is really an ensemble effort though there are a few cast members who I wanted to single out for individual praise. Firstly Dakota Blue Richards who is great as the mysterious and flirty Eve as I feel she bought the right amount of danger to a character that we’re meant to feel slightly unsure about. I also rather enjoyed Kris Marshall’s performance as the really unlikeable Paul as it’s a sort of departure from the comic foil or phone salesman that Marshall usually plays. However for me the standout was definitely Karla Crome, who has shone in everything from Murder to Misfits, here playing the emotionally damaged Claire who has accompanied her mother to this unknown house despite not having any friends there herself. The scene in which Claire is asked to dance at the local disco is one of my favourites as it appears as if she’s finally found someone to connect with even though this doesn’t turn out to be the case.
Overall Lightfields is a very silly drama which is full of obvious haunted house clichés and stereotypical representations of two very well-known time periods in British history. But at the same time I found it rather enjoyable thanks mainly to the well-paced story and the performances namely those of Richards and Crome. Programmes like Lightfields usually work if you want to know what’s going to happen next and luckily the writers of the drama gave me more than enough reasons to tune in and find out.
What did you think to Lightfields? Did you think it was silly but enjoyable? Leave Your Comments Below.