A couple of months in the past, when the lockdown was nonetheless in its infancy, a pal of mine revealed that she’d stumbled throughout a brand new binge-worthy boxset: Malory Towers. Enid Blyton’s guide sequence a few ladies’ boarding college had been tailored by the BBC, and what’s extra, the iPlayer launch date had been introduced ahead by a fortnight when colleges first closed in March.
The timing was excellent, and the variation (which later started airing on CBBC as deliberate) garnered rave opinions from critics, praising its mix of nostalgia and quiet feminism. My twenty-something pal had watched the 13-part sequence along with her mum, and had discovered the variation “soothing” to observe.
Hanna season two, with its quick paced storylines a few group of teenage assassins, can’t fairly be known as ‘soothing’. However its new boarding college backdrop faucets into an identical development for nostalgic, school-set dramas.
The Amazon drama, primarily based on David Farr’s movie of the identical identify, follows Hanna (performed by Esmé Creed-Miles), who’s been introduced up in a distant forest with no information of the world exterior – solely to later uncover that she was born in a lab, and genetically modified as a part of a programme run by a shadowy organisation known as Utrax.
On the finish of season one, Hanna learnt that there have been others like her: over 30 teenage ladies, all being educated by Utrax to turn out to be lethal assassins.
In Hanna season two’s opening episode, the actions cuts forwards and backwards between a forest, the place Hanna and defected Utrax trainee Clara are hiding out, and ‘The Meadows’, an enormous Jacobean mansion the place the remainder of the feminine trainees are about to be assigned their new character profiles and start studying concerning the exterior world.
The Meadows scenes have been filmed at Bramshill Property, Hampshire, which I noticed throughout a Hanna set-visit final yr. Each wall, staircase and classroom was decked out with busts and portraits of completely feminine heroines and pioneers, like Amelia Earhart.
The trainees’ bedrooms had been kitted out within the model of their assumed identities, and most of the rooms have been adorned with posters and placards with slogans like, ‘Training Is Energy’, and ‘Males of High quality Respect Girls’s Equality’.
The entire constructing felt like – and was meant to really feel like – a contemporary ladies’ boarding college, one which was eager on empowering its college students.
All through the sequence, showrunner Farr cleverly juxtaposes the extra sinister facet of the varsity, together with the scholars’ continued fight coaching, with the – dare I sare – Enid Blyton components, albeit catering for a extra grown-up pupil physique. As an alternative of clandestine midnight picnics, as in Malory Towers, the Utrax ladies steal alcohol from a supply truck, and maintain a typical room occasion with cocktails and board video games.
The mixture of escapism and motion makes for a heady system, one which I discovered way more watchable than Hanna season one. Having been despatched your complete second season to preview, I binged all of the episodes in a matter of days.
The primary Malory Towers guide was printed in 1946, when Britain was nonetheless feeling the after-effects of World Warfare Two. The adventurous but sheltered lives of the Malory ladies appeared to offer the proper, protected escape for Blyton’s younger readers, as they got here to phrases with the once-in-a-generation disaster they’d lived by.
It appears acceptable that the TV adaptation must be launched simply because the nation’s youngsters stay by one other, once-in-a-generation disaster.
For adults, there’s been Regular Individuals, which broke information for BBC iPlayer when it was first launched mid-lockdown. Viewers adopted Irish youngsters Connell and Marianne first by their closing college yr, after which by college – each considerably nostalgic settings which can be barely separate from the grownup world.
Hanna season two is Malory Towers on steroids, retaining its darkness and action-fuelled, worldwide sequences – to not point out much more bloodshed that Enid Blyton may possible abdomen.
However by introducing a college setting and teens-versus-adults components, the present faucets into our starvation for each escapism and nostalgia.
Hanna season two launches on Amazon Prime Video on Friday 3rd July 2020 – check out what else is on with our TV Information