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Source: Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date: 12/27/2003

TELLY: Ciaran has the look for place in history.

CIARAN Hinds is no stranger to dramas adapted from classic novels -in the past,he has brooded impressively as Captain Wentworth in Persuasion and Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre. As a result,it seems the actor is getting used to period costume and felt quite comfortable about the 19th-century sideburns he had to cultivate for The Mayor of Casterbridge starting on Sunday, a two-part dramatisation of the Thomas Hardy novel.

Ciaran,pictured laughs: ``They did attract a lot of attention when I was out. People were curious to know if it was a style of mine.

``I got used to them and people were shocked when I turned up at the wrap party, the night after we'dfinished filming, with them still intact.''

Ciaran grew his hair to play Michael Henchard,a hay trusser who believes his wife and child are holding him back and, while drunk, sells them for five guineas to a sailor. He soon regrets his decision, vowing never to touch alcohol again, and sets out to become respectable.

Thanks to his natural business acumen and energy,he becomes a successful corn merchant and is even made Mayor of Casterbridge -but 18 years later,his past comes back to haunt him when his wife Susan (Juliet Aubrey) turns up with her daughter Elizabeth-Jane (JodhiMay) in tow.

Determined to make amends for past mistakes,Michael feels compelled to remarry her,even though he has already proposed to another woman,Lucetta (Polly Walker).

Meanwhile,he is also drawn into an increasingly bitter rivalry with Farfrae (James Purefoy),a young Scot who was previously his trusted friend.

Ciaran admits that his character is not particularly likeable,but that is one of the things that attracted him to the role.

He explains: ``The challenge for me was to make him a sympathetic character. You have to make people understand why he's like that or else you alienate him.''

Luckily, the actor believes his character does have some redeeming features: ``Michael does genuinely repent and is shocked and horrified by what he has done. He vows to give up drink and sets about looking for his family in a bid to apologise. He is determined to make it up to these women.''

Ciaran even came to sympathise with him: ``Michael seems to make mistake after mistake and in a way,I don't think he can help it.

``There's something in his makeup,he is a flawed character. You keep thinking, `No,don't do that' and then he goes and does it.''

Despite Michael's many flaws, the Irishborn actor was glad to take the role,if only because it made a change from playing romantic heroes.

Ciaran has picked up a legion of female fans over the years,and he admits being surprised by the wide age- range of his admirers. He says: ``I get some lovely letters. One of my favourites was from a woman who said,`My eight year - old daughter has watched Jane Eyre four times on video and insists on making us all watch it and talk about you. I wondered if you could send us a signed photograph and then, when she's 16,it's your problem'.It really made me laugh.''

Unfortunately for his many followers,Ciaran is very happy with his partner Helene and their daughter Aoeiffe,although he admits that theirs isn't the most conventional of households: ``Helene is French Vietnamese and I'm very Irish, so there's a melting pot going on.''

So, unlikeMichael,it looks like Ciaran is in no hurry to offload his family.

The drama, which concludes on Monday,also stars Jean Marsh, Tony Haygarth,David Bradley and Judy Cornwell.