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A Review: ‘The Paradise’ BBC TV Miniseries stars Joanna Vanderham and Emun Elliot

BBC TV Miniseries ‘The Paradise’ (TV-PG) stars Joanna Vanderham and Emun Elliot

A review by Jennifer Anne F. Messing.

Will penniless, country girl Denise Lovett find the promising future she’s looking for when she leaves family and all behind to work at her uncle’s haberdashery shop in the city of Newcastle? BBC’s The Paradise is a captivating, suspense-filled romantic-drama that takes place in England in 1875. Based on the novel with the same name by Emile Zola, this multi award-winning two-season TV miniseries first released in 2013.

When Denise (played by Joanna Vanderham) arrives at Newcastle she’s disappointed to learn her uncle can’t afford to hire her due to the stiff competition he’s faced from the newly-opened, plush department store across the street, The Paradise. Left with no choice, Denise applies for a job at The Paradise.

Immediately hired for a position in Ladieswear, during the next few weeks Denise is trained and thoroughly immersed in a world she’s not known before: in sales and efficiency, ladies’ high fashion, sophistication and elegance, employee intrigue, and…unexpected attention from The Paradise’s charismatic and handsome manager, Mr. John Moray (Emun Elliot).

Smart, hardworking, and beautiful, Denise quickly learns the ins and outs of her job under the close scrutiny and direction of her department manager, Miss Audrey (Sarah Lancashire). Able to think of and implement new sales strategies that prove successful on several occasions, Denise earns favorable attention and respect from Mr. Moray—as well as the jealousy of her coworkers, including gossipy Clara (Sonya Cassidy) and Miss Audrey.

It appears that Mr. Moray is interested in courting Denise, and while she thinks she may be developing feelings for him, there are barriers. One is Mr. Moray’s dark, mysterious past which he tries to hide and avoids talking about; the other is that he’s romantically linked to a wealthy woman, Miss Katherine Glendenning (Elaine Cassidy), whose father had previously loaned Mr. Moray money for The Paradise.

The months ahead bring to the surface other underlying financial problems and internal conflicts between The Paradise’s employees and its owners. As Denise, however, continues to work hard at her job and enjoy increasing professional success, she now grapples with her conflicting desires to climb the farthest she can possibly go in her career—or answer the call of true love and her heart.

The Paradise is a rich and engaging TV series that’s appropriate for family viewing with teens ages 13 and up. It offers much to enjoy: an excellent screenplay with well-written dialogue, a talented cast of lead and supporting actors and actresses, beautiful costuming, and a poetic musical score. It’s a treat to see the genuine charisma between the lead characters Miss Denise Lovett and Mr. Moray, skillfully portrayed by Joanna Vanderham and Emun Elliot.

Though The Paradise is a period drama, its themes of attaining success through perseverance and hard work, and a person’s deep need to find everlasting love are universal themes that we all can relate to today. Enjoy!


BBC TV Miniseries Trailer: “The Paradise” stars Joanna Vanderham and Emun Elliot

Romantic Suspense/ Period Drama. Rating: TV-PG. Appropriate for family viewing. Two-season TV Miniseries, British Broadcasting Corporation, 2013-2014. Photo credits: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

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Portland, Oregon residents can borrow The Paradise (DVD) from the Multnomah County Library, tel. 503-988-5234.



Jennifer Anne Fabregas Messing is a 2018 Cascade Writing Contest WINNER (Published Short Story”), a multi-published author, poet, and speaker with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Religious Education. A past president of the Oregon Christian Writers, she has authored three books and more than 250 articles, short stories, and poems published in 60 magazines, including: The Storyteller, The Gem, LIVE, Evangel, FellowScript, and The Proverbs 31 Woman. Originally from the Philippines, Jennifer Anne has been married to Michael Messing for 28 years. They are the parents of three young adult children and reside in Oregon, USA.

Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. Get information about her two award-winning books, Morning's Promise: Poetic Moments in His Presence and Everlasting Love: Romantic Vignettes for a Woman’s Heart on this website, on Amazon, and Barnes&Noble online.

Copyrighted © by Jennifer Anne Fabregas Messing. All rights reserved. Contact the author for reprint information. Email:

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