Episode 1
Season 1, Episode 1
Air date Jan 7, 2017 (BBC One)
Jan 10, 2017 (FX)
Written by Steven Knight
Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm
Episode Guide
Episode 2

Episode 1 [1] is the first of eight episodes of the first season of Taboo. The season premiere originally aired on January 7th, 2017 on BBC One, and January 10th, 2017 on FX.

Synopsis Edit

It is 1814 and James Delaney reappears in London, a changed and haunted man, presumed dead in Africa many years before. His return finds his father, Horace Delaney, dead and a country at war with France and the United States. Set to inherit what is left of his father's shipping empire, James's arrival not only threatens to disrupt the plans of his half-sister Zilpha and her husband Thorne Geary, but also the political ambitions of the mighty East India Company, chaired by Sir Stuart Strange. [2]

Cast Edit


Guest StarringEdit


  • Tallulah Rose Haddon as Pearl
  • Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Abraham Appleby
  • Martin Wimbush as Funeral Caller
  • Larrington Walker as Street Beggar
  • Richard Syms as Priest
  • Peter Yapp as Old Man
  • Jo Cameron Brown as Old Lady
  • Paul Bigley as Delf
  • Andrew Greenough as Mace
  • Tim Plester as Passerby 1
  • James Greaves as Strange's Clerk
  • Michael Shaeffer as Dr. Powell
  • David Houston as Ship's Captain
  • Anthony Kaye as African Man

Memorable QuotesEdit

"The issue today is Old Man Delaney. May he rot in Hell!"
― Sir Strange's farewell to Horace Delaney

"I remember you. I've heard the stories. If I give you a girl I'll never see her again!"
― Helga to James Delaney

"Whatever happens with this business of inheritance, and no matter if it results in dispute, I hope I can trust you to keep the secrets of the past buried. Buried in a deeper grave."
― Zilpha Geary

"I do know the evil that you do because I was once part of it."
― James Delaney to Sir Stuart Strange

Gallery Edit




  • On various sites such as and the like, this episode was listed under the title "Shovels and Keys," but this title is not present in any officially released reports nor its origin is attested by any reliable source. [3]
  • Some of the filmings for this new series took place at The Charterhouse, Charterhouse Square, London. [4]
  • The scene at the water mill was shot at Mapledurham on the Thames, near Reading.[4]
  • As mentioned by Delaney, his mother's name was Salish, which is also the name of an indigenous tribe still living on Vancouver Island. The Coast Salish peoples.[4]


  • The presence of the Prince Regent sets this precisely between 1811-1820. However, the so-called 'mirror test' for arsenic was invented by James Marsh, refining Metzger's test, in 1832.[4]
  • St. Bartholomew's Hospital has no glass roof mortuary in 1814.[4]


  1. BBC — Officially released title
  2. Taboo Episode 1 synopsis on BBC One
  3. Officially released title
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Taboo on
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