R.D. Blackmore’s classic Lorna Doone is a particularly dense novel, containing hundreds of characters and a lot of country philosophizing. This sort of work is not easy to translate to the screen, but there are more than enough adventure, brawling, and love scenes to do the trick. Writer Adrian Hodges has remained true to the original, and together with director Mike Barker, has produced a winner. The casting is superb – look for a caustic Michael Kitchen as the infamous hanging judge Jeffries. Richard Coyle as hero Jack Ridd turns in a pitch perfect performance as a courageous young man who comes of age by refusing to compromise the principles instilled in him by his parents. And Aiden Gillan makes the nefarious Carver Doone the villain you love to hate. The costumes and scenery beautifully evoke late 17th century England, and the blend of romantic drama and plentiful battle scenes is well balanced. The music is a bit cloying, but you can’t have everything! A&E and BBC have a winner with Lorna Doone.