Who Is The Ghost Of Barry Fairbrother On 'The Casual Vacancy'? A Certain Death Releases Pagford's Secrets
After only three years since its release, J.K. Rowling's non-Harry Potter novel The Casual Vacancy is getting an onscreen adaptation courtesy of BBC and HBO. The Casual Vacancy has been adapted into a three-part miniseries directed by veteran BBC director Jonny Campbell and written by Sarah Phelps, who has both the British EastEnders series and a recent adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations under her belt. While there are quite a few minor changes to the novel (and a few major ones as well), the overall theme of the novel stays true in the miniseries. The first part tells the tale of Pagford after the death of one its own, Barry Fairbrother. After his death, an online voice appears with the name "The Ghost Of Barry Fairbrother" and taunts Pagford that he (or she) will release secrets of the town. So who is "The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother" and what trouble will he or she stir up?
Basically, the only decent man in the village when he was alive, Barry was hoping to keep open a local community center that houses a methadone clinic to help those who need to kick their drug habits. However, local business leaders (mostly those of an older generation) want to renovate the home into a spa. Fortunately for them, Barry's death means their biggest and most compassionate competitor is gone. But the race for his election seat becomes a huge plot point in the novel and series, and that race is complicated thanks to this online ghost who decides to release damaging secrets and rumors about the parishioners.
For those who've read the novel, you know who the ghost is. For those who haven't, it's safe to assume that "The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother" isn't actually the real ghost of Barry Fairbrother. Rowling doesn't suddenly turn this small town-set novel into a Harry Potter-sized supernatural mystery. However, you should turn away now if you don't want to more. This is your official SPOILER ALERT.
The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother is first started online by Andrew Price. He's the son of Simon Price, an abusive jerk of a father who in the miniseries is Barry's half-brother, though this familial relationship doesn't exist in the novel. But Andrew's not the only one releasing scandalous information. Sukhvinder Jawanda also dishes out a few tidbits about her mother Parminder, who works with Barry and supports his crusade against the new spa. Stuart "Fats" Wall, Andrew's best friend, also posts on the online forum about his adopted father Colin "Cubby" Wall, who is the headmaster at the kids' school.
Now the question is, will the miniseries stick to the novel in this instance? It seems unlikely that Phelps would let this storyline change in any major way considering it does in many ways shape what happens in many other areas of the plot. The secrets the kids release are upsetting, dangerous, and difficult to swallow. I'm excited to see the depiction of all this drama and tension in the town unfold onscreen.
Images: Steffan Hill (2), Screenshot/HBO