Jekyll is a 2006 six-part drama made by the BBC and serves as a sequel to the novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. James Nesbitt takes on the dual roles of Dr Tom Jackman and My Hyde, a direct descendant of Dr Jekyll. Gina Bellman stars as Jackman’s wife Claire with Michelle Ryan appearing as psychologist Katherine Reimer.
I have read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde so many times I can’t even count…wait it is four times…turns out I could have counted. Anyway, it had become one of my favourite books of all time.
Now I cannot say that I had actually read the book prior to seeing the BBC series Jekyll that was first aired in 2006. So I really had no idea what to expect going into this show and actually only gave it a watch because I had seen a couple of adverts for it, it looked like the kind of thing I would enjoy so I sat down to watch it…and I am so glad I did…
So join me and let’s take a look…
Dr Jackman (Nesbitt) is a married man with two children; unfortunately he has inexplicably started transforming into Mr Hyde (also Nesbitt). This has been going on for some time, and the pair have managed to reach a compromise, they essentially have a timeshare agreement, and communicate with one another using a Dictaphone. Hyde doesn’t know that Jackman is married and spends his time drinking, smoking and having sex with prostitutes. Whilst Jackman tries very hard to make sure that Hyde doesn’t find out about his family or anything about his own life
Katherine works for both and relays messages between the pair. She is safe from the dangerously unpredictable Mr Hyde because Jackman has set up a series of cameras in the apartment he lives in to keep his alter-ego away from his family, and Hyde knows that if he harms anyone Jackman will turn himself in to the police.
The arrangement works, but then Jackman notices a black van following him everywhere he goes. The van keeps him under observation because a private company wants Hyde, believing him to be the next stage in human evolution. This leads to Jackman struggling to keep his family safe from Hyde, whilst trying to stay one step ahead of the company relentlessly pursuing him and his twisted alter-ego.
First off let me make this clear, you do not need to have read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in order to know what is going on here. However, considering the book is only around a hundred pages long and can be downloaded for free if you own a kindle, it is not hard to track it down to read it. Anyhow, this series functions as basically a sequel to the events of the book rather than a reimagining of the characters and setting.
Jekyll is made up of six episodes and charts the events leading up to Jackman’s first transformation. Robert Louis Stevenson (played by Mark Gatiss) also puts in an appearance as Hyde learns how to access his genetic memory and look back at his ancestors. Gina Bellman seems to be a little too attractive to be Jackman’s wife, but as the story develops the audience learns of the history that the pair have between them that makes their attraction more likely.
Paterson Joseph is expertly cast as Benjamin, one of the higher-ups in the company that wants to capture Hyde. He is obviously in over his head and has no idea how to deal with the dangerously unpredictable Mr Hyde when the two come face-to-face.
Still, it is without a doubt Nesbitt to steals the show and plays Jackman and Hyde so differently that the audience can easily believe that they are two different people. There are some prosthetics that are used to slightly alter Hyde’s appearance, here Hyde is not a disfigured muscle-bound monster, he is physically much stronger than a human but he also looks human. When portraying Hyde, Nesbitt is simply magnificent, and lights up the screen in the same way David Boreanaz did when he portrayed the brilliantly twisted vampire Angelus in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
In my humble opinion, BBC series tend to be superior to their American counterparts simply because in the United States, seasons seem to be twenty-odd episodes long with loads of ‘filler’ episodes which don’t really move the story along. Jekyll has six excellent episodes that tell Hyde’s origins and Jackman’s past in flashbacks but also allow Nesbitt to shine as both the struggling Jackman and twisted Mr Hyde.
The story is at times a little confusing and there are those who may not really get the ending, however, on the whole Jekyll is a great series. James Nesbitt shines as both Jackman and Hyde, and has support from an excellent cast that make Jekyll a must-see series for any Angelus fans or those who like to see a brilliantly twisted character.
Whilst not essential to have read the book it does help still regardless of that, as a standalone show, Jekyll is a brilliant series and left the door open for a second season which sadly as of 2015 it has not materialised.
The series gets a Thumbs Up because it is well worth tracking down.
8/10 - Jekyll is a well-written and well-acted series that develops the ideas from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and includes a few twists the audience won’t see coming. Nesbitt steals the show and Mr Hyde lights up the screen every time that Jackman transforms into his twisted alter-ego.